Lightning lowers boom on Raising the Bar

Shawn Hardy
Best friends and Greencastle-Antrim kindergartners Nathan Hoover and Seth Davis, both 5, partied it up with noisemakers at Raising the Bar, the Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation's New Year's Eve celebration. SHAWN HARDY/ECHO PILOT

Hearty party-goers armed with umbrellas and wet-weather gear braved the elements to attend Raising the Bar, the Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation's inaugural family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration Monday evening on Kaley Field.

They donned party hats and beads, blew on noise-makers, munched on cookies and signed their names on the centerpiece of the celebration, a 20-foot, 620-pound steel beam that was supposed to be raised by a crane from Manitowoc at 8 p.m.

The rain poured down and people started shaking their heads as lightning illuminated the clouds and thunder rumbled. How could there be lightning on Dec. 31 when it was 40 degrees?

Ultimately, safety dictated the boom be lowered on the crane, the bar was not raised and festivities concluded with a countdown from 10 to 1 and a chorus of "Happy New Year" led by Greencastle Mayor Ben Thomas Jr.

"This is a reminder that Mother Nature is in charge," Thomas said.

Earlier in the celebration, Cheryl Brown, executive direction of G-AEF, said, "I am ecstatic to see our vision of Raising the Bar come to life and all this rain cannot dampen my spirits."

Rain also could not dampen the spirits of Nathan Hoover and Seth Davis, 5-year-old best friends and Greencastle-Antrim kindergartners, who enthusiastically blew on their party horns.

"The kids were really looking forward to it and we couldn't say 'no,'" said Nathan's mother, Domenica Hoover.

Shortly before the scheduled lift up, Brown announced, that it was unsafe, but said there will be many more opportunities for raising the bar.

That's become the theme of the reinvigorated education foundation since Brown was hired as executive director in August 2018.

The New Year's Eve celebration marked the kick-off of a $550,000 capital campaign to build restrooms, a concession stand and ticket booth at Kaley Field, with ground-breaking planned in the spring and the facility ready for the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

"We are committed to impacting Greencastle-Antrim students' education experience," according to Garon Gembe, G-AEF president. "We secure and steward funds to enhance education, arts and athletics. We are raising the bar at all levels."

The beam from Monday's celebration will be incorporated in the new building and beams at future Raising the Bar New Year's Eve parties will be used in other G-AEF projects.

"I'm looking forward to next New Year's Eve when it will be 35 degrees with clear skies," Thomas predicted.