LG ball drop

This “2022” will illuminate downtown La Grande on Dec. 31 as the lighted ball drops to count down to the new year.

LA GRANDE — A traditional New Year’s Eve celebration is returning to downtown La Grande this year after going virtual in 2020.

A block party will start at 10 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, and the ball drop at midnight will welcome 2022.

The intersection of Adams Avenue and Depot Street will be closed off for the celebration, which includes burn barrels to keep revelers warm and a warming tent sponsored by John J. Howard & Associates Real Estate with hot cocoa and other goodies. Many downtown restaurants and shops stay open late, and Becky’s Burger Wagon is scheduled to be serving up food.

Also, Loveland Funeral Home will be providing free rides home.

The event is organized by La Grande Main Street Downtown. In 2020, the organization did not sponsor a block party and the ball drop was livestreamed on Facebook.

“This year it’s back to normal,” said Ashley O’Toole, Realtor and property manager with John J. Howard & Associates.

O’Toole was the one who proposed the idea for a New Year’s Eve party to La Grande Main Street Downtown.

This is the event’s eighth year.

“There’s a lot of laughter, a lot of conversation. It’s a fun, celebratory atmosphere,” said Taylor Scroggins, executive director of La Grande Main Street Downtown.

Near midnight, the illuminated ball will descend the flagpole on the Phoenix Building as the crowd counts down to the new year.

“It actually glows pretty impressively,” Scroggins said.

He said John J. Howard & Associates is a major partner for this New Year’s Eve tradition, and O’Toole makes sure all the lights — for the ball and the illuminated 2022 — are in perfect order.

Scroggins said many community events came back in 2021. La Grande Main Street Downtown organizes Crazy Days, the Eastern Oregon Beer Festival, Downtown trick-or-treat, Plaid Friday and Small Business Saturday, the holiday parade and tree lighting, and a guided lights tour (in partnership with the Union County Chamber of Commerce).

2022 may bring even more activities.

“We’re looking to expand our events next year,” Scroggins said.

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