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Buffalo’s ball is ready to drop on New Year’s Eve

This year’s New Year’s Eve features ball drops north and south of Buffalo, as well as the big annual countdown and ball drop in Roosevelt Square at Main and Huron streets in the city.

Billed as the largest New Year’s Eve ball drop in the state outside of Times Square, the evening starts with First Night activities from 5 to 10 p.m. at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, and ends with live music, ice skating in Fountain Plaza and more.

Crews Monday tested the mechanism and the ball at the Electric Tower, the Washington Street building owned by Iskalo Development that holds the ball.

“It’s working very well,” said Modie Cox, executive director of the Police Athletic League of Buffalo, one of the organizers of the ball drop, adding, “It’s very, very bright.”

Making sure the ball drops is one of the many details required to make sure 30,000 to 40,000 revelers have a safe and enjoyable time.

“What a nightmare you would have if the countdown starts and the ball doesn’t come down,” Cox said.

But the ball, weighing about 200 pounds and decked out with more than 300 LED lights, is working properly to ring in 2015.

“We want to make sure everyone is having a good time, and more importantly, there’s no injuries,” Cox said. “We want everyone to come out.”

This is the 26th year for the family-friendly First Night activities downtown, including rides and amusements such as Eclectic Improv, Pyromancy, Nickel City Reptiles & Exotics, the Red Trouser Show, Kevin McCarthy and a wide variety of street performers. Tickets, which are $10 per person pre-sale, are on sale at Wegmans. Tickets are $12 at the door, and children 2 and younger are free.

Singer Caitlin Koch will again headline the show at the ball drop. Some parts of Washington, Genesee and Huron streets around the plaza will be closing Wednesday.

Be sure to bring the earmuffs and warm gloves for the New Year’s Eve ball drops. The low Wednesday night will be around 20, and it will feel closer to zero, according to a hazardous weather outlook issued by the National Weather Service in Buffalo. Sustained winds approaching 35 mph are in the forecast, with higher gusts possible.

Free parking is available at the Main Place Mall and Fernbach Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority will extend Metro Rail service for New Year’s Eve, with the last outbound train leaving downtown Buffalo at 2 a.m. Those using Metro Rail can park free at either of Metro’s two Park & Ride locations, at the University at Buffalo South Campus on Main Street or at the LaSalle Station, on Main Street just north of Hertel Avenue.

Other First Night activities will take place throughout the area:

Niagara Falls: The Old Falls Street’s New Year’s Eve Kids’ Club will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday at the Conference & Event Center Niagara Falls, 101 Old Falls St. There will be bounce house activities, an array of Backyard Board Games (giant versions of popular family games), foosball and table tennis, family-friendly movies played on a giant screen and more. All children participating in Kids’ Club activities inside the Conference & Event Center must be accompanied by a legal guardian for the evening.

At midnight, the Hard Rock Cafe sponsors a “guitar drop” and fireworks off the Giacomo Hotel.

Hamburg: First Night Family activities will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. at SS. Peter and Paul gym on East Main Street. Rock the Roundabout activities, with the ball drop, will take place in the municipal parking lot after that. Parking is available in the SS. Peter and Paul lot.

Orchard Park: North Buffalo Street will be closed at the four corners from Quaker Street (Route 20A) to Princeton Place from 10:30 p.m. Wednesday to 1 a.m. Thursday for the ceremonial ball drop at midnight.

The Tonawandas: The Renaissance Bridge between Tonawanda and North Tonawanda will be closed from 7 p.m. to midnight Wednesday for the New Year’s fireworks and ball drop. Young Street, between Main and Delaware streets, also will be closed from 10 p.m. until after midnight.

For families, admission is $5 for the Kids Zone at the Salem United Church of Christ, 114 Morgan St., City of Tonawanda. For adults, the Pub Crawl, from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., gives people a chance to visit bars that are within six to eight blocks of each other on both sides of the canal. A ball drop and fireworks will take place at midnight on the Renaissance Bridge between the two cities.