Nobody is allowed near Times-Square in New York City. Heck, people aren’t allowed past 10 p.m. in downtown Vallejo.
No matter. If there’s a will, there’s a way. Or, in this case, a chance to be creative and send a message — actually, accept a message — then Shannon and Kathy O’Hare of Obtainium Works will come up with something.
And they did.
The traditional “dropping of the ball” at midnight New Year’s Eve is now a giant red-spiked virus that will be stuffed with pieces of paper contributed by the public and dropped 14 feet into a fire pit at 8 p.m. Thursday.
The square pieces of paper are requests by the community of what they want to get rid of in the New Year, be it fear, loneliness, death, or the virus itself that’s taken roughly 350,000 American lives.
The O’Hares are accepting in-person notes until 5 p.m. with more than 50 emailing what they want out of their lives in 2021, said Kathy O’Hare, eventually printing out the requests and adding to the soon-to-be-fire ball.
The concept “came to me at the last minute and I gave it to Shannon’s brain and he took off with it,” Kathy O’Hare said in front of Obtanium Works at 510 Pennsylvania St.
“The virus is just spreading so badly and people are not going anywhere,” she continued. “Since everyone wants a ritual of some kind to put an end to this year, we were talking, ‘Why don’t we do the ball drop?’”
It’s all about “letting go of the old and bringing in the new,” Kathy O’Hare said.
It took two days for Shannon O’Hare to finish the virus ball, starting with a wood center and papier mâché coating of the Times-Herald. The familiar red spikes are donated coffee cups.
Despite short notice, the public has responded, mostly via the Obtainium Cup Facebook page, Kathy O’Hare said.
“People have been writing what they want to ‘burn away’ since this morning,” Shannon O’Hare said, agreeing that starting fresh on Jan. 1 is a form of cheap therapy.
“And Vallejo needs cheap therapy,” he said, adding that he’s lured his staff that’s worked at Burning Man as a “fire pit safety crew.”
A couple walking by Thursday afternoon, Cris Molina and Beth Traub, stopped for a few minutes to fill out the square piece of paper and drop their “good riddance” wish into the “virus ball.”
“It’s a really great idea for the catharsis of the local community,” Molina said, praising the O’Hares for “their willingness and imagination to create it and share it. This is awesome.”
The burning of the virus ball will be live-streamed on Facebook at 8 p.m. “so it doesn’t interrupt anyone’s New Year’s plans and we can go to bed at a reasonable hour and don’t have to wake up at midnight,” Kathy O’Hare said.
Yes, she added, when it’s 8 p.m. here, they’ll be celebrating at midnight — in Nova Scotia.