Posted by: Kath Usitalo | December 18, 2012

Drop In At These Fun New Year’s Eve Events


New Year’s Eve at The Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center, 1935

As a college student in Detroit I toyed with the idea of going to New York City on December 31 to be a part of the mad crush watching the Ball Drop in Times Square. But I really thought the dreamiest way to welcome the New Year would be to nibble caviar and sip champagne at the elegant Rainbow Room on the 65th floor of Rockefeller Center. I got some of my friends excited about it until we realized the cost—I think the party was a few hundred bucks per person at the time. The supper club opened in 1934 and was the epitome of the dine-drink-dance places of so many Hollywood movies.

Our kegger crowd never made it to the Big Apple to twirl on the revolving dance floor. The Rainbow Room and less formal Rainbow Grill started running into troubles in the mid-1980s and closed a couple of years ago. In October of 2012 it was named a New York City Landmark, which should protect its status until new management takes it over. Maybe my college chums will be up for a reunion when that happens. I’ll start saving now; tickets for the Rainbow Room’s last black-tie New Year’s event were $1,600 each.

Outside Rockefeller Center

Outside Rockefeller Center

Since the kids were born there’s been no place I’d rather be on that evening than by a toasty fire with a couple of movies to get us to the midnight mark.

While in the 313 we watch the Times Square Ball Drop or, if we’re TV-free at Blue Skies in the Upper Peninsula, we make some noise of our own with firecrackers and other things that go boom.

A couple of times we headed into Naubinway to join the annual party at The Cove Bar. I’m pretty sure the dance floor was revolving for a few of those grooving to the music of Sneaky Pete, a great Northern Michigan band.

logo3There’s no shortage of opportunities to wear silly hats and blow horns at bars, restaurants, casinos and halls across the state, but if you’re in the mood to get out and see something drop consider watching an anchor, cherry or turtle fall at a New Year’s Eve celebration with a Pure Michigan twist:

Charlevoix: The pretty city straddles the Pine River, a link between Round Lake, Lake BridgeDropCharlevoix and Lake Michigan. The 111-foot drawbridge that spans the waterway is the site of the annual New Year’s Bridge Drop. Purchase a $5 bracelet and enjoy specials and events at area businesses beginning at 10 a.m. and running through the lowering of the bridge.

Detroit: The Drop at Motor City NYE is in the shape of a giant, lighted “D” at Campus Martius Park in the heart of downtown. Family events happen during the day and viewing The Drop at midnight is free. The adults-only bash at the Compuware building Atrium and Hard Rock Cafe is expected to sell out ($100 and up).

Grand Rapids: Families will appreciate the New Year’s Early Eve festivities from 6-8 p.m. at the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. Decorate party hats, create noisemakers, munch snacks and dance to the DJ’s music before the 7:30 p.m. balloon drop. Advance reservations required; tickets are $10/$12. Phone 616-23-4726 ext. 204.

header10Kalamazoo: All that’s missing in the town where the vehicles were built is a Checker Cab Drop. For nearly 30 years the New Year’s Fest has brought music, storytelling, magic acts, hands-on activities and more to several locations in and around Bronson Park. I’d go just to see the 30-plus tuba players performing a Tuba New Year at 5:30. A midnight fireworks show welcomes 2013. Admission buttons are $5 in advance, $8 on the day of the event (order online or at several locations).

Mackinac Island: Welcome 2013 by going back in time at the New Year’s Eve Celebration on the Victorian resort island in the Straits of Mackinac. Better known as a summertime destination, this is a wintertime destination, too. The native Ottawa called it Michilimackinac, meaning Great Turtle, because it resembled the plentiful creature, and naturally for New Year’s Eve there’s the Great Turtle Drop “around midnight” near the Christmas tree on Main Street.

Midland: Downtown becomes a fun zone for Midnight on Main events beginning at 3 p.m. with family friendly activities, entertainment and a 5K Run/Walk called The Midland Resolution topped by a midnight ball drop and fireworks. Most events are free but tickets are required for the adult beverage tent.

127Port Huron: The Thumb city on Lake Huron will welcome 2013 with the first-ever McMorran New Year’s Eve Anchor Drop. At midnight a 6-foot, lighted anchor, crafted by St. Clair County Community College welding students, will slide down the 150-foot tower at McMorran Place, the convention and events center. Bring your skates for a spin around the arena’s indoor ice rink and enjoy live music, concessions and the beer tent. Admission is free.

Traverse City: What, you were expecting a coconut? The heart of Michigan’s cherry country hosts its fourth annual CherryT Ball Drop (charity, get it?) with live entertainment plus a DJ and the descent of a giant, lighted cherry. The street party is free, but food pantry donations are welcome, plus there are ticketed family and adult dance parties.

For additional New Year’s eve ball drops check out the events in Ludington and Marquette.

Visitor Info:
Pure Michigan


  1. We were in the Rainbow Room for an early Y2k Party in Dec. of 1999. It was wonderful…those were the days.

    • I don’t remember you being there. I want to see pictures and hear all about it!

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