Organizers of Raleigh's big New Year's Eve bash usually start planning for next year as soon as the acorn drops, but January 1, 2019, presented its own challenge when a 22-year-old woman was hit by a stray bullet.
As First Night Raleigh celebrates 2020, organizers are promising a safe and secure environment for everyone attending the famed Acorn Drop.
"Luckily we feel really comfortable with the plans we have in place and we work with the Raleigh Police Department throughout the year to make sure plans are detailed and we're ready to enact everything we need to," Cameron Laws, First Night's program director, says. "We actually work with Raleigh Police Department for the entirety of this planning process which really starts the moment the acorn drops, we're thinking about the next one."
Much of the detailed security plans are kept behind the scenes for security reasons, but the thousands in attendance will see a heavy Raleigh Police Department presence, plus several crews from Wake County EMS. All cross streets will also be marked by new orange steel barricades purchased by the City of Raleigh earlier this year.
"It's the night that doesn't end until morning," Wake County EMS Assistant Chief Jeff Hammerstein says. "It can be very dangerous but we can keep it from being dangerous if everyone is paying attention. You can make a decision now not to make bad decisions so think it through and have a plan and be safe about it."
Hammerstein attributes most New Year's Eve emergency incidents to alcohol.
"It's easy to say the person who has way too much to drink and can barely walk, of course they shouldn't be driving," he adds. "A lot of problems we see are people right in between who think 'I'm probably good' and are still impaired and a danger to themselves or others."
Raleigh Police Department offered several helpful tips to avoid impaired driving.