Covering Louisiana

Dec 30, 2013 6:32 AM by AP

Baton Rouge to mark start of 2014 with a stick

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - New York City drops a crystal ball. In New Orleans, it's a fleur-de-lis.

For the first time, Baton Rouge will mark the start of the year with, what else, a red stick.

The Advocate reported the city's official New Year's celebration, Red Stick Revelry, will culminate at midnight Wednesday at North Boulevard Town Square when the slightly-more-than nine-foot stick descends 30 feet down the square's media beacon.

A fireworks show will accompany the ceremony.

Event organizer Rannah Gray said a group got the idea for Red Stick Revelry when Mayor Kip Holden took the oath of office in the then-recently-opened North Boulevard Town Square just a few minutes into 2013. Gray says the event sparked the idea of the city having an official celebration to ring in the new year.

"About 100 people were down there, and we thought that, with all the other people downtown on New Year's Eve now, we could use an official celebration," Gray said.

"We proposed to the mayor what we could do this year and then expand to down the road," she said. "This could turn into some great traditions."

The group raised private funds to have the red stick specially designed for the drop, with the sponsors agreeing to donate the art piece to city. Sarah Powell, of Compose Digital Design, took on the job, incorporating the words "Baton Rouge" into the piece.

"We wanted it to be something that would become identifiable with our city," Gray said. "It's really a clean, kind of iconic design."

Gibko Signs, based in Bunkie, used Powell's design to construct the red stick.

"We wanted a really bright, LED light that would stand out." Gibko used engineering drawings in order to build the stick to fit onto the existing beacon, Gray said.

The raising of the red stick will be part of Red Stick Revelry's midday activities on Tuesday.

"We'll have some family-friendly activities during the day for just about an hour," Gray said.

Those staying in on New Year's Eve can catch a broadcast of the Red Stick Drop at Town Square 11:35 p.m.-12:05 a.m. on WAFB-TV.

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