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Ringing in the New Year

By Holly Fesperman Lee

Salisbury Post

Roger Stegall came an hour early Sunday night in anticipation of ringing in the New Year at downtown Salisbury’s Bell Tower Park early this morning.

While waiting, he even took cover under the tower for a few moments to get out of the rain.

Stegall found himself under the Bell Tower again at the stroke of midnight, giving the bell its first ring of the New Year.

The honor of being the first to ring the bell is a tradition, with the winning name chosen from a hat.

Stegall told everyone all night that he was going to be first, but no one believed him, he said.

After ringing the bell, Stegall moved to the side, allowing a line of party-goers the opportunity to take turns.

The festivities at the Bell Tower began at 11:30 p.m. and included refreshments, singing, and drawings for Downtown Dollars gift certificates. The event is sponsored by downtown merchants and Downtown Salisbury Inc.

Noise makers were even provided. Collin and Avery Denton didn’t waste any time getting theirs.

Alana Denton, the boys’ mother, said her sons were attending a New Year’s Eve function for the first time this year.

Denton said Collin, 10, and Avery, 11, were excited about the event and kept saying, “My first real adult party.”

In years past, the Dentons woke their sons just in time to see the ball drop on television. But this year it was, “Time to being them out to a Salisbury tradition,” Denton said.

Mike Lambert was celebrating his 50th birthday at Bell Tower Park.

He and Gaynell Scruggs went to the Melting Pot, a restaurant in Charlotte, earlier in the evening as part of their New Year’s plans. In the coming year, the two hope to extend love and forgiveness.

Tina Solomon said she and her family come to the Bell Tower event every year.

“It’s a tradition,” she said.

The family enjoys gathering together and always goes out to eat after the event.

This year, the choice was the International House of Pancakes.

“The Bell Tower is a signal of bringing in the New Year … when we hear it, that’s what we think of,” Katy Bartlett said.

Donnie Solomon said he was attending the event for the first time. As far as New Year’s resolutions are concerned, Solomon had some original goals.

“Instead of dieting, I’m going to eat all I can. My main goal is to survive. I’d like to see 2008,” he said.

Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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