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Democrat Photo by Dan Hust

THE LIBERTY BELL was the featured part of the sixth annual bell dropping on New Year’s Eve in Liberty, marking the change to – as the neon sign says at the Liberty Museum – 2002.

2002 Literally
Rung In

By Dan Hust
LIBERTY — January 4, 2002 – It was dark and it was cold. Freezing cold.
Exactly the kind of weather needed for the sixth annual Liberty Bell Drop in downtown Liberty Monday night.
Several of the approximately 100 attendees remarked that this was the first New Year’s Eve they could recall that the village didn’t have snow on the ground, but that actually made it far easier for all of them to break into song and dance when the famous Liberty Bell (a local lighted version) dropped from the third story of the Liberty Museum and Arts Center – a la the famous crystal ball in Times Square.
The cold meant dancing and singing were the best ways to keep warm, and the lights of the bell were dazzling against the black backdrop of the night sky.
(The Liberty Bell is modeled after the famous one in Philadelphia and was created by Lee Parks, Linda Berkowicz and a team of Liberty High School students six years ago.)
Prior to the museum’s neon sign changing from 2001 to 2002, dozens of people milled about the far warmer interior of the museum itself, viewing the current exhibits on local main streets and oral history. Unique to the evening’s festivities were the Liberty Middle School Band’s various live performances, renditions of jazzy holiday and popular tunes by Walter Moylan “The Keyboard Wizard,” cup after cup of sparkling grape juice (in lieu of champagne), and lots of kazoos and party favors.
“The museum is a really important thing in Liberty,” said Peggy Friedman of New York City and Neversink as she waited for the bell to descend with her husband Robert and friend Kathy Jeffers of Woodbourne. “We came because we know the museum and [museum founder and supporter] Bob Dadras.”
In addition to Dadras, other museum and town officials, from Town of Liberty Councilman Sean Hanofee to Village of Liberty Poet Laureate Walter Keller to Museum President Gene Barbanti, made sure there would be a sixth installment of the popular Main Street event, and likely nowhere else in the county was the new year celebrated with as much vim and vigor – and with a bell to boot.
“Beats Times Square!” said a grinning Jeffers at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

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