New Year's Eve in Continental Square is back on.
Mayor Kim Bracey announced that thanks to a $20,000 donation from Sprint, First Night will once again be held this year on New Year's Eve.
The "cherished community event" that began in 1986 will take place on Continental Square from 9 p.m. to midnight Dec. 31, Bracey said, before urging those at a morning news conference to "stop by Sprint stores for the holidays."
News of the last-minute funding comes after a group of local bar owners came together to offer an alternative New Year's celebration.
Mudhook Brewing Co., Holy Hound Taproom and the White Rose Bar and Grill had planned an inaugural "First Pint" celebration along Beaver Street, in place of the event on Continental Square.
Jeff Lau, co-owner of Mudhook, said on Thursday those plans are off.
"Why compete with them in that fashion at this time?" he asked of the large-scale downtown event. "We'll still do our event, just not that night."
City officials said in recent weeks that no sponsor had stepped up to cover the Continental Square event's cost, which has been pegged at about $35,000. Officials had said tax dollars would not be used, and said without funding the event would not be held.
Jim Gross, the city's public works director, on Thursday likened the past few weeks to a "fundraising roller coaster." Sprint officials contacted the city about two weeks ago, he said, and the details started to fall into place by late last week.
"It's going to be a full-blown event, just like we've had in the past," he said.
That will include fireworks and a countdown to midnight accompanied by the dropping of the white rose, he said, as well as kids' activities earlier in the evening. Entertainment is planned, though Gross said those details are still being finalized.
"That's the final piece," he said, adding crews will now scramble to prepare.
But "we'll be fine," he said.
Gross said donations for the city's event totaled about $35,000. In addition to Sprint's $20,000, about $15,000 in "smaller checks" came in, mostly from local businesses, he said.
Lau said the scrapped First Pint plans were in no way a waste of time. Mudhook will still have live entertainment leading up to the downtown celebration, he said, and business owners continue to plan for the future.
"If it gets us out of the discussion phase for that kind of event, which it did, then it was worthwhile," he said.
Tom Malone, store manager at Sprint's location at the York Galleria, said he heard about the city's funding trouble over the radio a few weeks ago. He wanted to help, he said, and got in touch with the corporate office.
"I just made some phone calls," he said.
Harry Lutz, Sprint's area sales manager for Central Pennsylvania, said the company was happy to help save York's New Year's event this year. As to next year, and to the future of the downtown celebration, both Lutz and city officials said time will tell.
"We've very happy to do it," Lutz said. "Next year, we'll have to sit down and talk some more."