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Let's Reinvent New Year's in Moorestown

2013 should be an exciting year for Moorestown, says columnist Marsia Mason.

Here's what's wrong with New Year's Eve: forced gaiety and amateur sots. 

Here's what's right about New Year's Eve: absolutely nothing.  

Yes, it's the beginning of the new year, a time to start fresh. But when did getting sloshed in tinsel tiaras and dorky hats become part of the celebration? You might be asking yourself, “Gosh! How did Marsia become so jaded about such a beloved holiday, which is also known as an excuse to get drunk and sloppy?” Read on, friends, and you'll have your answer.

For several years, when I was living in Brooklyn and working for THE famous music video channel, I worked during the dreaded holiday at the Rockin' New Year’s Eve Ball. I have to say I preferred working to playing, watching the drunks as opposed to being one. My boss had deemed me "not star-struck" because I didn't faint when Jon Bon Jovi cruised around the ninth floor one Tuesday. To be honest, I saw the big hair and assumed it was the ditsy temp from Queens who had been doing my filing for several weeks.

My job was to stand at the velvet rope with a clipboard and prevent drunken nobodies from mingling with the drunken somebodies in the VIP room. I lost all respect for soused somebodies when one Brat Packer started eating the centerpieces then puked into a coffin-sized box of party favors, hats and noisemakers. The “F” train ride back to Brooklyn at 3 a.m. was a solemn affair, Taylor and I the only ones awake and not drooling or nodding.

Taylor has always worked on New Year’s Eve. If you're an entertainer, it goes with the territory. Sometimes, when the boys were little, we would travel with him. Usually, however, the boys and I stayed home, watched the Twilight Zone marathon on Syfy, made ice cream sundaes and screamed happily if we made it to midnight. Mom and the Twilight Zone marathon lost their allure as the boys aged out, and I found myself with other NYE loathers, going to dinner and an early movie before driving home cautiously, dodging weavers and sudden lane-changers.

In Brazil, New Year's Eve is almost a bigger celebration than Christmas. Regardless of religion or race, everyone honors the goddess Iemanja by dressing in white and sending tiny boats filled with flowers and candles out into the ocean. Then everyone dances like frenzied eels until dawn, with an emphasis on dancing rather than drinking. The air is sultry and the people are in a great mood.

I think it's time to reclaim and recreate the holiday. Here are a few suggestions.

Why not try something like Brazil’s tradition in Moorestown? First, make a beeline for Strawbridge Lake, our closest body of water—unless you count the moat that surroundsthe library when it rains. With some 20,000 people in town, there's no reason we couldn't use both. Wait a sec. I forgot about that pesky fence surrounding the site of the municipal complex. Let's just knock it down. It's only been three weeks and we're already tired of it, aren't we?

The dressing in white part might be a bit problematic, since the winter temperatures in Mo'town tend be be colder than Brazil in winter, which is actually their summer. (Got that?) Some acceptable white attire might be chef's clothes, scrubs, ice cream vendor-wear, bed sheets and toilet paper, wrapped mummy-style. Then again, we could always skip that element altogether and encourage more informal attire, like snowsuits, helmets and mukluks.

Next, everyone makes their way to their chosen body of Mo'town's finest H2O. Wawa could set up hot chocolate dispensaries in advance, and other merchants could hawk finely crafted paper boats, real flowers and we could all haul out some of the candles left over from Superstorm Sandy. As one, we would release our hopeful little boats and watch as they got tangled in the vegetation in the foot-deep waters of Strawbridge Lake and sink. Happy New Year, folks.

Another great idea would be to block off Main Street and have a First Night, just like Haddonfield. We could get MoorArts to provide cabaret acts, Mark Morgan's crew could do a few numbers and local musicians would be encouraged to do a set or two, gratis. There would be refreshments, merriment and hilarity, all without booze.

I know, I know. Some wonderful people tried to get First Night Moorestown off the ground several years ago, but it fizzled out, while Haddonfield's celebration continues. You know what I say to that? Mazel tov! Keep your jugglers and clowns. We're working on a whole new world over here.

On the verge of 2013, Mo'town is a great place to be. The municipal complex is finally underway. We can put up with various construction nuisances because we know something wonderful will come from the chaos and inconvenience. Our mall will soon be a destination instead of a drive-by. Yes, we'll complain when it becomes hard to navigate the parking lot, but with new restaurants come new revenues and a higher caliber shopping experience. We hope.

Enhanced shopping and dining experiences are all very nice, but more exciting to me is the promise of a reenergized town council. The turf wars are behind us. We have three newbies who are ready to dig in and get things done with two seasoned council pros, Jordan and Chiacchio, to guide them along. For the past two years, I've watched soon-to-be-Mayor Jordan and Chris Chiacchio stand their ground without acknowledging their fight. Now, I say a very heartfelt thank you to both of them for their steadfast positions.

What an exciting time to be a Mo'towner!

Main Street December 31, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Marsia.. We had a "First Night" in Moorestown to bring in 1999 and it went well! Good attendance, sponsorships, and volunteers. But that's just it, you need volunteers and have someone or a group of people dedicated to running the event. It took a lot of hours of prep. The event started at 6:00pm at the community house and the celebration occurred at. 9:00pm for the kids. It can be done but need dedicated volunteers, and start planning early
Colleen Gala December 31, 2012 at 03:51 PM
It Must be indoors...too cold for most. How about a pot luck dinner, or horderves. When I was a teenager here, we had a dance every Friday night in the old Community house gym. (I hate the new "room") Just a meeting of neighbors at such a central location with a minmum of extras could be simple, easy, and joyful. Play music, dance, and greet. Maybe a TV screen to watch some other locations celebrations. Keep it low key, and managable. That's the ticket.
Colleen Gala December 31, 2012 at 03:51 PM
i did
Rob Scott (Editor) December 31, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Personally, I think Moorestown would be a perfect spot for a First Night, with Main Street/Community House as the focal point. (I'm being a bit self-serving—it would be convenient for me, since I live within a 2-minute walk from downtown.) Perhaps it could even be tied in to fundraising for the Community House in some way. Just spitballing here.

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