New York City has its ball drop. And for the first time ever, Cambridge has its own New Year’s Eve drop — featuring a workboat. The New Year’s Eve Boat Drop will feature a replica of a trot-lining deadrise — a traditional waterman’s workboat — launched down 60 feet of track at midnight on Dec. 31. The street will be closed from 10pm to 1am for the celebration in the 500 block of Poplar Street in Cambridge.
The boat is about 4 feet long and will be traveling at about 14 miles an hour when it hits bottom. As it’s coming down it will knock crabs off the line, which will be the “trot-lining” aspect. There’s also a contest to name the boat.
“We wanted something different and relevant for the Eastern Shore, and in particular Dorchester County, and this is what we came up with,” said Brian Roche, chief technology officer at Bay Country Communications, who brainstormed the boat drop idea with Rob Kramer, a welder in Hurlock, and Scott Shilling, owner of Bay Country Communications.
The idea, Roche said, is not only to encourage people to come to downtown Cambridge and patronize the local businesses on New Year’s Eve (most of the restaurants will be open late), but also to bring the community together to celebrate.
The 500 block of Poplar Street will be closed starting at 10pm on New Year’s Eve. People are welcome to watch as the 60 feet of track is constructed right in front of the studios of WHCP Radio, which will be broadcasting the event live. The 500 block of Poplar is between Gay and High Streets, near the Crab Basket Christmas Tree, another distinctively Dorchester holiday project that has quickly become a local tradition in its three years.
The boat drop project has been a labor of love. Bay Country Communications is sponsoring everything and their techs painted the track and practiced assembling and testing the drop in their warehouse. They’ll also be setting everything up on New Year’s Eve. Rob Kramer Welding in Hurlock engineered and built the replica boat and the track. B&B Auto Body painted the boat. Kevin Hill of Hill Kimmel Construction is lending his construction lift to raise the boat into the air. And various others—WHCP Radio, Cambridge Main Street, Dorchester Tourism, downtown businesses, the City of Cambridge an the Cambridge Police Department—are all helping with logistics and promotion.
There’s also a boat-naming contest. Submit ideas for the boat’s name to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on Dec. 30. “It’s a big deal to name a boat,” said Brian Roche. “Particularly here on the Eastern Shore, where your boat might be your livelihood.” The winner, to be announced around 11:30pm, will get $100 in Cambridge Main Street bucks to spend at participating downtown merchants. Winner must be present to win.