PITTSBURG -- New York has its falling ball on New Year's Eve. And Pittsburg has its falling anchor, which will once again makes its yearly appearance during New Year's Eve festivities at City Park.
This is the fourth year for the New Year's event organized by Johnny Maes, a former Oakley resident who is also the impetus behind the California Millennium Monument, a sculpture chiseled out of black granite and located in the park. Dedicated in 2001, the Millennium Monument hopes to collect time capsules from Contra Costa County's 19 cities to be placed in a vault in 2025 at the site.
Festivities at the New Year's event will include an air cannon shooting stuffed animals and candy onto the lawn every hour for children to chase and bring back. The air cannon will also shoot out glow necklaces and bracelets when midnight strikes.
"We shoot the cannon off every hour for the other countries and other cities (ringing in New Year's)," he said.
The event has the go-ahead from the city. Maes obtained a special permit for the event, said Don Buchanan, Pittsburg's director of recreation and maintenance services.
The anchor, of course, is meant to tie (pun intended) into the city's commercial fishing history.
"It's the city emblem. It's more fitting than a ball dropping," Maes said. "It's lowered by a rope and it drops."
But the anchor is not a real anchor. Instead, it is six-foot-tall painted plywood replica outlined with lights that will be dropped from a 30-foot-high platform during a 10-second countdown to midnight.
People will also be able to play a game dubbed "Angry Chickens" provided they make some kind of financial donation to support efforts of cities outside of Contra Costa County to place time capsules at the monument site. The game involves shooting rubber chickens out of the air cannon and aiming for cardboard boxes illustrated with farm animals. The highest score wins bragging rights and a trophy.
"We're calling it Angry Chickens. We don't want to get in trouble," said Maes in making a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Angry Birds app.
New York's iconic falling ball attracts huge crowds, of course. The falling anchor event in Pittsburg is not even close. Last year, fewer than two dozen people showed up for the event, but Maes is hoping for a bigger turnout this year. He's also hoping it will generate more interest in the Millennium Monument.
Right now, Pittsburg, through an effort involving students at Pittsburg High School, is the only Contra Costa City that has started putting a time capsule together. "They've got some cell phones, they've got pictures of students and some kind of flier," said Maes, adding that more work needs to be done before the time capsule is complete.
"We're hoping that (time capsules) for all the 19 cities in Contra Costa County are all filled and ready to put into the vault in 2025," he said.
Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her on Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.
What: New Year's Eve Anchor Drop
When: 4 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Monday
Where: City Park, Civic and Railroad avenues, Pittsburg