Online Originals: Greenville to ring in New Year with an Emerald Ball

Online Originals

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – The New Year is almost here, and the creation of Greenville’s Emerald Ball is nearly complete!

“Well last time you saw us it was just a frame,” says Hydra Cut owner Jason Riddle.

One of the sides of the Emerald Ball for New Year’s Eve. The top has “Happy New Year” engraved.

“The shells were built but they weren’t lit or engraved. So we’ve done a lot of work since then. We build the wenches. We made those from basically scratch. We’ve tested them. They hold their weight. All of the frames are built and painted and engraved. The lights are almost done. We just have a few little loose ends to tie up, not much.” 

The words ‘Happy New Year’ and Greenville’s slogan ‘Find Yourself in Good Company’ is also engraved.

Hydra Cut employees and helpers have been working since summer to make sure this ball is ready on New Year’s Eve.

On the left, the ball has a “G” for Greenville. On the right is a dragon, which is the symbol of the Hydra Cut.

Riddle says it’s not been easy and many hours have been put into the project, but that’s what makes it fun.

It’s the largest project Hydra Cut has done so far, but Riddle is very pleased with how it’s turning out.

Here two Hydra Cut employees are a demonstration how the ball will spin and move up and down.

“It was fun,” said Riddle.

“This was a challenge, but it wasn’t one of those that you go home dreading about going to work the next day. I loved it. Every second of it, even the frustration parts. It just it’s been really good. I like it.” 

Hydra Cut will be testing the ball drop on the Friday after Christmas.

They’ll be at the Town Common at 10 am.


The City of Greenville is preparing to host its first ever New Year’s Eve celebration. Held at the Town Common Amphitheater, there will be music, a photo booth, food, fireworks, and a countdown to ring in 2020.

Currently, a vendor based out of Winterville called Hydra Cut is working on creating something very special for Pitt County and its residents, an emerald shaped ball drop.

“Greenville is known as the Emerald City, and so we are working on developing an emerald to drop. Obviously, they drop a lot of different things in different cities, and they thought the emerald would represent us very well.

So, the emerald is being created, and that will drop as the countdown comes to 12 o’clock at the Town Common.” 

– Andrew Schmidt, Greenville-Pitt County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director

The structure will have four sides to it, two sides being the year and two will be sponsorships. It’s made of 90% aluminum, with acrylic, lights, and batteries that also make up the structure.

When asked if the ball will have any actual emerald in it, Hydra Cut owner and operator Jason Riddle said: “that’s a secret I can’t divulge.”

Jason Riddle explaining what the emerald structure will look like once it’s complete.

“It’s going to be flashing lights…big. Our plan is to have it dance to the music.”

– Jason Riddle

Ken Graves, Greenville’s Assistant City Manager, said the city plans to use the Emerald Ball as a symbol not just for New Year’s Eve, but other celebrations like at ECU football games and other holiday events.

Pictured Above is the piece that the emerald will be in front of in four places.

Riddle and a co-worker moving the piece that the emerald will rest on.

Riddle explains how it will look, “The big cutout in the middle…there will be a giant circle in the middle with four winches on it. That circle is independent of this (the piece), so they can move independently.”

As the countdown begins, the emerald ball will be dropped from the top of the Town Common Amphitheater.

There will also be a catwalk across the stage for whoever is hosting the event. Once the clock strikes midnight, the ball will touch the floor, fireworks will ring out, and it will be the year 2020.

Greenville’s countdown to the New Year is featured here. If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, please contact Mindy Griffin with the Jaycees.

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