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The countdown to the countdown is on.

The City of Buffalo did a practice run of its New Year’s Eve ball drop Friday and has given the thumbs up for downtown Buffalo’s biggest shindig Tuesday night.

“Now in its 26th year, the Buffalo Ball Drop and Fireworks has become an annual tradition that keeps getting bigger and better,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown.

Thousands are expected to gather in Roosevelt Plaza on Tuesday, at the intersection of Huron, Genesee and Washington streets, to watch the lighted ball make its way down Buffalo’s historic Electric Tower.

Crews did a practice run at noon Friday, timing the ball’s descent and testing its hundreds of lights. The Buffalo Ball Drop, which is televised locally, is timed to coincide exactly with the midnight ball drop in New York City’s Times Square.

Festivities at Roosevelt Square will kick off at 10:30 p.m. with a singing performance by Buffalo Idol winner and Orchard Park native Caitlin Koch. Video walls will project images of both the Buffalo and Times Square ball drops. The event will conclude at midnight with the ball’s descent and a fireworks display.

The ball drop, which is free and open to the public, follows First Night Buffalo, a family-friendly, drug- and alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration held in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, 153 Franklin St. The event, which runs from 5 to 10 p.m., includes dancing, poetry, comedy, juggling, puppet shows and other performing arts, as well as bounce houses, obstacle courses, costumed children’s characters and other entertainment.

Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 at the door and children age 2 and younger are free.

Free parking is available at nearby Buffalo Civic Auto Ramps’ Main Place Mall ramp, 223 Pearl St., and the Fernbach Ramp, 200 Pearl St.

Metro Rail will offer extended service for New Year’s Eve revelers until 2 a.m., with trains running every 20 minutes, stopping at all stops, with the final train heading outbound from Erie Canal Harbor Station to University Station at 2 a.m. New Year’s Day. Rail service may pause during the ball drop, as crowds tend to gather on the tracks in front of Roosevelt Square prior to the drop.

The city also has released a schedule of street closings to accommodate the ball drop overnight from Tuesday to Wednesday, including:

• Washington Street between East Huron and Genesee streets, and West Huron Street between Pearl and Main streets from 7 a.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday.

• East Huron Street between Main and Washington streets, and West Huron between Pearl and Main streets from 10 a.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday.

• East Huron Street between Main and Genesee streets, and Genesee Street between East Huron and Ellicott streets from 4 p.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday.

• Washington Street between Chippewa and East Mohawk streets from 2 p.m. Tuesday to 8 a.m. Wednesday.

email schristmann@buffnews.com