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John Lamb, Published December 31 2008

Fargo-Moorhead needs Party Czar

At the stroke of midnight tonight, all around the country, various items, from a 25-pound Peep, to a 20-foot walleye, to a 1,250-pound copper acorn will drop to signify the dawning of the New Year.

But the only thing Fargo-Moorhead is dropping on New Year’s Eve is the ball.

This town is losing a valuable resource – its cheer.

Sure, eateries are open and have impressive specials – for those who want to ring in the New Year emptying out their wallets. And the bars will set you up, but who needs a double shot of amateur night?

Where are the community celebrations? I’m thinking of the big picture – people on the streets, fireworks in the air, a scene straight from a musical or an Olympics parade – minus the interpretive dancing and Enya soundtrack.

Even Grand Forks takes part in First Night – family-minded celebrations of visual and performing arts held nationwide.

The Fargo area wasn’t always in the dark. From the mid-1990s through 2002, the Fargo and Moorhead park departments collaborated on Light up the Night, which ended with fireworks – at 10 p.m.

It wasn’t that organizers were jumping the gun by two hours or celebrating New Year’s in Halifax, Nova Sco-tia. There was one simple reason for the early night and the overall end of the event: People weren’t interested in standing outside when temps dipped below zero.

It’s time to start some new traditions. We need something to drop other than the temperature.

A co-worker suggested a gi-ant puck, since Fargo now thinks of itself as a hockey town. If oil ever delivers big paydays in North Dakota, maybe we could have a lighted oil derrick erupt in neon for the New Year.

There is plenty of holiday cheer here, but someone needs to direct all the good will. The North Poll has Santa. ABC has Dick Clark.

Fargo-Moorhead needs a Party Czar.

Who could be this holiday cheer leader?

“Downtown” Dave Anderson, the head of the Downtown Community Partner-ship, seems a logical possibility as he has the connections, but he probably wouldn’t wear a wacky hat.

I recall Riaz Aziz,former Moorhead Superintendent of Parks and Recreation, wearing a number of colorful hats, which matched his enthusiastic visions. Like his proposed but failed “Avenue of Colors,” flags of 190 nations to be hung along First Avenue North.

Or Hullaballoo, the Moorhead party that promised, but failed to deliver a Happy Hooligans flyover before a football game, a laser light show during an F-M Symphony performance, a $1 million purse for a world record set at the 10K run and a fireworks display.

On second thought, maybe Aziz isn’t the one for this job.

We need not only an idea person, but a promoter who can deliver a spectacle, someone unafraid to think big and always give the town a boost.

It’s time to bring back Vince Lindstrom. The original director of the F-M Convention and Visitor’s Bureau was one of the first backers of Trollwood Performing Arts School, an early supporter of the Creative Arts Studio and adopted Vimmerby, Sweden, as Fargo’s sister city.

Lindstrom was such a persuasive civic cheerleader, he was known to inflate atten-dance numbers at any event.

He didn’t just see the glass as half-full, he was serving two-for-ones and that’s the type of shot Fargo needs on New Year’s Eve.


Readers can reach Forum columnist John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

or jlamb@forumcomm.com