(Dec. 28, 2018) The busy Berlin events season – and calendar year – concludes with a New Year’s Eve celebration downtown on Wednesday, Dec. 31.

Kicking things off from 5-6 p.m. is a special event for children and families that is timed to coincide with the New Year’s countdown in Berlin, Germany.

Town Councilman Thom Gulyas asked Economic and Community Development Director last year to spearhead the earlier bash.

“I enjoy the more family-oriented atmosphere,” Gulyas said. “We can restrict any kind of public consumption of alcohol, and it’s centered and geared around children – me included – because we all can’t stay awake until the New Year.

“It works out very well that way and kids have a great time,” he continued. “Ivy Wells … does a fantastic job and I’m so pleased that she put this together for the town, because it’s just a lot of fun.”

Gulyas said the debut event last year was “just awesome.”

“We had no idea what do expect. We didn’t know if we were going to have six or 60 kids, but I remember there were well over 200 people in attendance that were children and parents,” he said. “[Downtown store] Heart of Gold Kids was also really instrumental in getting things pulled off, and making sure the kids had stuff to do and were enjoying themselves. It was a blast.”

A portion of Main Street was closed for the event and, at one point, volunteers handed out several large sheets of bubble wrap for children to enjoy stomping on.

“It was so loud at one time from kids jumping on it and popping it,” Gulyas said with a laugh. “I looked at the mayor and said, ‘We’re going to need headphones next year.’

“But they were really having a blast. That’s the kind of hometown stuff I like to see done,” he added.

The celebration for adults is set to run from 10 p.m. until 12:30 a.m., with a light show from the balcony of the Atlantic Hotel and a countdown clock shining on the Town Center Antiques building.

Burley Oak Brewing Company will provide beer, with some proceeds benefiting the Lower Eastern Shore Area Heritage Counsel. Sessa’s Vending and Catering will provide a food truck.

Holiday events in the town started in November with a tree-lighting ceremony and this month included a town-wide parade, free carriage rides, and several fine art and arts and crafts events – not to mention many busy shops and restaurants.

Throughout the season, the downtown sported a serious holiday makeover courtesy of town staff. Wells said the economic impact was significant.

“People want to go and shop in a beautiful place,” she said. “There’s a lot of repeat customers that come downtown, because they know what to expect. They know the shop owners, and the shop owners know what a lot of the people are looking for: beautiful and unique items, and a lot of handmade gifts made right here in Berlin.

“You just see people that you know, and it’s very warm and welcoming downtown,” Wells continued. “And people want to be part of something special.”

Josh Davis is an MDDC award-winning editor and reporter at the Bayside Gazette and Ocean City Today newspapers, covering Berlin and Ocean Pines, Maryland. He is the author of three novels, including 'Vanishing is the Last Art' (2012). He lives in Berlin.

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