AUGUSTA — Artists spinning balls of fire, a homemade version of the famous ball dropped each year in Times Square, and live music will help bring the new year into downtown Augusta on New Year’s Eve.

For the second straight year, the owners of Gagliano’s Bistro plan to have their own festive ball drop at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s with a ball fashioned by Jason McFarland, husband of owner Helena Gagliano. They’ll drop the ball from the front corner of the restaurant’s building at 287 Water St., about 45 feet up.

But McFarland said they want to step it up a notch this year, so he plans to add a green strobe light to the ball, which is made of wire, LED Christmas lights and a spotlight, to ramp up the ball itself and to bring live performers outside the restaurant for the festivities.

“We’re trying to do a little one-upmanship from last year,” McFarland said Tuesday as he prepared to install the ball and the system of pulleys and wooden supports used to lower it.

A group of artists known as Phoenix Tribe will be out alongside Water Street “spinning fire,” or rapidly rotating flaming balls attached to the ends of chains and poles, providing visual arts for the event.

Songwriter and guitarist Olin Moody, of Windsor, will also play outside around midnight including, as the ball drops, the New Year’s song “Auld Lang Syne.”

Inside, the Italian restaurant will have a DJ, Brooks Gagne, playing music and will have a special four-course holiday menu.

The organizers hope the event will draw people to downtown Augusta to celebrate New Year’s. Last year the event drew about 120 people outside on Water Street with more watching from their cars. Organizers expect between 150 and 200 this year. McFarland said they hope to build up the event, drawing more people each year, and hope to have it grow big enough at some point so others join in and fireworks can be added to the offerings.

“Word will spread, people want something to do, they want activities, festivities” on New Year’s, McFarland said. “The more things like this you have, word will build on the street.”

McFarland said last year he had less than 72 hours to design and build the lighted ball.

“We didn’t even have time to test the ball first. We just had to pray our theory would work,” he said. “Fortunately, it did.”

Other downtown businesses plan New Year’s Eve parties as well, including Charlamagne’s, Shake it Up and Shenanigans, all on Water Street, and Bridge Street Tavern.

Keith Edwards — 621-5647

[email protected]

Twitter: @kedwardskj

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