Springing into 2003 in Newville

December 26, 2002|by KEVIN CLAPP

Let Times Square have their giant dropping ball of light. The boys and girls of Newville, Pa., have a giant spring.

Because let's face it: You can't be Spring'n in the New Year without a big spring.

"We thought, what can we drop?," Jody Gilbert recalls. "What can we drop? And Newville is very famous for its big springs."

Never mind the springs in question are of the aquatic variety. Organizers of the inaugural Newville's Spring'n New Year's Eve Celebration have fashioned a large coil, which will be dropped from a 100-foot crane at the stroke of midnight Tuesday.


The Sunday before Christmas, Brad Spahr is working on the spring in his garage. Forty inches in diameter, at this moment the spiral is a whopping 30 feet long - much too long, he admits.

By the time New Year's Eve rolls around, the spring will be whittled to a more manageable 12 to 14 feet in length. The spring might be a bit exaggerated, but the goal of organizers is simple and pure.

"The more you can do to draw people together the better that is," says Spahr, who has spent every one of his 52 years in Newville. "We've become too much of an impersonal society. We don't know who's living next to us."

As de facto chair of the New Year's committee, Gilbert has joined a handful of townspeople who have met since September to flesh out an idea that sprang forth last summer from the minds of Spahr and Craig Kennedy.

From 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., Big Spring Avenue in the small Cumberland County town (population: 1,300) will be closed so revelers can gather and make merry on the last night of 2002.

Live music will be at Freemont's Community Cut Rate and St. Paul's Lutheran Church. Carolers will make their way from Egger Funeral Home, where a mystery guest will hold court, to the more than 200-year-old fountain in the center of town.

There a DJ will spin tunes until it's time to drop the spring. Proceeds from concessions will be used to fund an anticipated sequel next year.

"It's kind of cool," Gilbert says. "We thought this is something to bring the community together. It's going to be small, but we want everybody to have a good time."

A Newville fixture, Gilbert has owned Jodys Hideaway, a local gift shop, for six months. She is Newville's tax assessor, and is a member of the commission for the Newville Area Community Center.

Working to welcome the New Year has been a natural extension of her community activism. Besides, this has been fun for her.

"Well, my family is very important to me," she says. "I want the people in Newville to be a little closer, and the ... you know, the community is growing. I just think it's going to a very nice thing and if we can continue to do it each year it will continue to grow."

If you go . . .

Newville's Spring'n New Year's Eve Celebration, with live music and activities

10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 31

Big Spring Avenue

Newville, Pa.

Admission is free.

For information, call 1-717-776-4393, or go to on the Web.

Directions: Take Interstate 81 north to exit 37. At the end of the exit ramp, take a left onto South High Street. Follow South High Street into Newville. Big Spring Avenue will be on the left.

The Herald-Mail Articles