When people think of large structures dropping as crowds of people look skyward on New Year’s Eve, most Americans go immediately to Times Square in New York City.
But replace the crystal-covered ball with an LED-encrusted six-foot-tall, 70-pound pine cone and you know why people flock to the Weatherford Hotel in Flagstaff, Ariz., every Dec. 31.
AVDomotics of nearby Sedona, Ariz., put LED nodes on each of the almost 350 large pine cones three years ago, making a celebration that was already festive even more so. Unlike most countdowns, the Weatherford does two with the pine cone, which hangs outside the hotel for all of December, starting in conjunction with the Times Square/East Coast drop leading up to 10 p.m. MT and doing it again just before midnight MT.
“The whole downtown becomes a big celebration, so it’s fun to be a part of that,” says Andy White, president/CEO of AVDomotics. “It’s a mini-Times Square. We looked at it as another opportunity to stretch our skills.”
Here’s a look at some of the revelry and merriment in the moments before and after the calendars turned to 2011:
The pine cone drop started as a celebration of the Weatherford’s 100th anniversary with what White calls “a trash can with Christmas lights on it.” Over the next decade, the popularity of the annual event grew and the hotel decided to go with a pine cone.
To achieve these eye-catching, full-color results, AVDomotics upgraded the Weatherford’s audio distribution system and integrated it with the lighting system on a single platform. That provided a foundation for implementing property-wide system integration, including the pine cone and exterior LED lighting, video distribution and indoor LED lighting in the hotel’s Exchange Pub. As part of its upgrades, AVDomotics included infrastructure for the TVs in the pub, although that portion of the upgrade is still to come, White says.
Unlike most of his small A/V and security integration firm’s other projects, the Weatherford pine cone and all of the systems it contains had to be able to move as the object drops during the annual countdown to the new year. AVDomotics also included a color-changing system with a Crestron backbone that can be controlled from a mobile phone, White says. There’s also LED technology within the pine cone itself, he says.