Marietta's first-ever New Year's Eve ball drop baffles many

An unexpected trapeze artist stole the show at Marietta Square's first-ever New Year's Eve ball drop this week.

Instead of a traditional ball drop, like the one in New York City's Times Square or the Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta, the city of Marietta opted to "drop" a person instead.

Happy New Year City of Marietta! Thank you to everyone who came out to the Square! #dudedrop 2016!

Posted by City of Marietta, Ga., Government on Thursday, December 31, 2015

In October, the Marietta city council approved a cube, designed by Kennesaw State University students, to drop on New Year's Eve. Additional details about the ball drop were kept secret.

Spectators were in for a surprise when a gymnast was unveiled and "lowered" during the New Year's Eve countdown, then lifted back up after midnight.

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"Wow, he's like an angel," an unidentified woman can be heard saying in one of several videos posted online. "He's the star of the show."

The aerialist, a member of the Proia Dance Project, continued to perform for several more minutes after midnight.

"To me, it's exciting," said Lindsey Wiles, spokesperson for the city of Marietta, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When was the last time this many people were talking about the Marietta Square?”

Wiles, who helps manage the official Marietta Facebook page, said the video of the countdown got thousands of views on Facebook within minutes.

"I’ve been in this position for two years, and I haven’t seen this much social media traffic.”

The unorthodox countdown received mixed reviews on social media.

The New Year's Eve celebration was part of Marietta Square's Winter Wonderland, a project funded by a $43,000 tourism grant and organized by the Marietta Square Branding Project, a non-profit group of local business owners.

"We wanted to create something unique that has never been done," the Marietta Square Branding Project's Sterling Wharton told the AJC. "We've never seen anything like this anywhere in the world."

Wharton said that the board wanted to create an authentic and engaging performance with local and traditional roots.

The Proia Dance Project, a dance company based in Marietta and the company the aerialist belongs to, is led by board chair Jim Glover, a descendant of Glover Park's founder and namesake.

It is undecided if New Year’s Eve in Marietta Square, which was part of the Winter Wonderland, will happen again in late 2016. If so, Wiles said the Marietta Square Branding Project may consider input from the general public for next year's ball drop.

Marietta police estimate 12,000 people were at Marietta Square on New Year's Eve. The official capacity of the square is 31,000.

"We had a quiet evening," Marietta police officer Brittany Wallace told the AJC. "Everything went off as planned."

The cube and performance is expected to cost over $15,000 and the New Year’s Eve celebration is projected to cost between $50,000 and $75,000, according to the Marietta Daily Journal

The aerialist, who has not been identified, was only in the box for 20 minutes before the drop. "He was not there all night," Wharton said.

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