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Organizers of the Motor City New Year’s Eve celebration are promising more attractions and larger crowds as the program enters its sixth year.

Event organizers announced Tuesday that the Detroit-headquartered Meridian Health Care will lead the Dec. 31 countdown to 2016 as the title sponsor of “The Drop” in Campus Martius Park.

Event co-founders Jerrid Mooney and Tony Piraino concocted the first event in December 2010 with a gala that drew close to 4,000 spectators to the Compuware building and featured an English D Drop in the plaza.

The party has grown from there, with a crowd of about 20,000 last year and plans for more than 30,000 this year, Piraino said during a news conference Tuesday from a stage just east of the park downtown.

“We have ramped up everything we are doing here,” said Piraino, who is co-owner of Detroit’s Firebird Tavern, saying there will be a wider variety of entertainment and a larger party tent. “These types of things are what make a city a city.”

Mooney said the two were inspired to start the event after they noticed “an unmet need” in Detroit.

“I looked around Campus Martius and I didn’t see anything going on in the city,” he said, adding the turnout for the initial event was so large that it inadvertently shut down the surrounding streets. “From there, it’s been a real challenge to keep up with the growth.”

This year’s program will run 4 p.m.-1 a.m. in Campus Martius and Cadillac Square. The event, supported by Opportunity Detroit and Bedrock Real Estate Services, is free, Mooney said.

The centerpiece of the night is the revamped 7-foot glittering “D,” mounted on an 8-foot glowing sphere to be dropped in Cadillac Square twice. The first descent will take place for children at 6:30 p.m. and the second, just before midnight, organizers say.

Beginning at 7 p.m., organizers say there will be performances by the Infatuations, Tosha Ownes Blues Band, Angela Davis & The Solid Pocket Band, Athena Johnson Band and Jukeboxx.

The night features live music, food trucks, alcohol and local retailers. Partygoers can also enjoy warming stations, live entertainment, face painting and bounce houses.

The ice rink in Campus Martius will be open for public skating, with extended hours until 1 a.m. Admission is $8 for adults and $7 for children and seniors. Skate rental is $3.

Additionally, the “Motown Countdown” party will run from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. inside an 11,000-square-foot heated tent. The event costs $69 per person, and includes entertainment, drinks and midnight pizza. Tickets can be purchased at www.MotorCityNYE.com.

cferretti@detroitnews.com

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