West Michigan Counts Down To 2011

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Thousands of people began to pack Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids Friday afternoon to get a good spot to ring in the new year.

As part of the annual Hot 105.3 FM New Year's Eve bash, several bands, including headliner Good Charlotte, rocked the crowds ahead of the big planned ball drop at midnight.

Matt Hanlon, the President of Citadel Broadcasting, said he expected the attendance to near 50,000 people as the clock inched closer to 2011.

"Every year we try to take it up another notch," Hanlon told Fox 17. "People are coming. They want to be here for the ball drop."

Nearby businesses said they also expected to cash in on the new year with a solid last day of sales in 2010. The Pita House restaurant across the street said business started out slow but was expected to pick up.

"It's still rainy and cold, we hope to get the same amount we had last year, if not better," said the owner's son Emad Shatara. "It just brings life to downtown, and brings people, attracts people."

Downtown hotels like the Amway Grand Plaza and JW Marriott also reported being booked for the night.

"People start booking January 1, a year out," said JW Marriott General Manager George Aquino. "The last four years we've always sold out for New Year's Eve. This year we sold out two weeks before."

Kalamazoo and Hastings also had big New Year's Eve celebrations scheduled with similiar ball drops at midnight.

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