LUDINGTON, Michigan - A wintertime event that has given an economic boost to the waterfront community of Ludington won the Region 3 Community Excellence Award Wednesday (May 5, 2011). As the Region 3 winner, Ludington now has a chance to win the statewide CEA in the Michigan Municipal League’s “Race for the Cup” competition. Read more about this peer-selected “Race for the Cup” contest that recognizes outstanding community services, projects and programs.

Ludington, located off Lake Michigan between Muskegon and Traverse City, was one of three communities vying for the Region 3 CEA title. Also in the running were Kentwood’s new city library, presented by Kentwood Mayor Richard Root and Kentwood Deputy Library Director Jim Dewald Jr.; and Reed City’s collaboration in economic development initiatives with the surrounding township, presented by Reed City Manager Ron Marek.

Ludington Mayor John Henderson said his community is known more as a lakefront, summertime vacation destination and it started a New Year’s Eve Ball Drop effort two years ago to boost the city’s winter activities. The event has quickly grown and annually attracts thousands of people to the New Year Eve’s celebration, which also includes a short fireworks show.

The ball itself is six feet, five inches in diameter and is lit by 6,000 LED lights and is believed to be the biggest ball in Michigan, said Ludington Mayor John Henderson. Employees of GLC Metal Fabricators and Harsco were responsible for making the ball, and Tye Signs did the lights. There are four different color lights which blink as it's lowered.

League President and Alpena Mayor was impressed with the range of projects presented at the Region 3 Education Seminar.

“All three projects are excellent and as in most regions it's become very difficult to select the winner,” said Carol Shafto, League Board President and Alpena Mayor. “Because the projects are so different they're each excellent in their own way so it's difficult to compare and choose when each have something excellent to bring to the table.”

Ludginton will now compete for the statewide CEA honor (against the CEA winners of the other 6 regions during the League’s annual Convention Oct. 4-7, 2011 in Grand Rapids. Register online for the 2011 Convention starting June 1. Other Regional winners so far were West Branch (Region 6) and Southfield (Region 1).

Matt Bach is director of communications for the Michigan Municipal League. He can be reached at (734) 669-6317 or

Ludington's New Years Eve Ball Drop draws thousands of people each year. (Photo by Todd Reed)

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