Ferris wheel draws attention to downtown Raleigh

December 31, 2011 4:36:04 PM PST
Organizers spent Friday evening transforming Fayetteville Street into a Paris Boulevard. It's part of the French theme for "First Night".

Officials are expecting big crowds downtown. Last year, 50,000 people showed up. This year, crowds will be treated to hours of entertainment, and of course the glowing feature of the event will be a 90 foot Ferris wheel.

The new addition to the Raleigh skyline is designed to pay tribute to a Ferris wheel that's built and run during the holiday season in Paris each year.

Raleigh's Ferris wheel, which is actually the same one that's used at the State Fair is already catching the eyes of people downtown.

"It's all colorful. It's really exciting," said Raleigh resident Mathilde Sellars. "We're coming down tomorrow. So maybe we'll ride it."

"I think it's really cool. It's lighting up and I really like that," said Raleigh resident Kaysew Endalkachew.

A select few go to ride the giant wheel but it won't be the only attraction during first night. It's an event that's expected to draw tens of thousands of people to a 20 block area of downtown Raleigh.

"Well, I think downtown has evolved into such a great place. I think the more people that come down here realize that," said Linda Lillis, of Artsplosure. "It grows every single year. It shouldn't be missed by anyone".

It's a celebration designed to get attention but organizers hope it will only be positive.

"The Raleigh police will be in full force in downtown Raleigh tomorrow night," said First Night Raleigh's Terri Dollar. "And making sure we've lit up all the dark corners so that everybody is safe and that everybody can come down here and have a good time."

If you want a ride on the Ferris wheel, you first need to buy a first night entrance button, which is on sale at several tents for $12.

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