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New Year’s Eve Droppings: Pickles, Pelicans, Possums and More
By Tom Adkinson

Times Square in New York is just so crowded on New Year’s Eve. Besides, everyone has seen that gigantic crystal ball drop on TV dozens of times. So, what can you do for some aerial excitement? It turns out that there are plenty of other places to gaze skyward that night. Here are a few.

pickle drop
Expectant eyes look upward in Mt. Olive, N.C., for the moment a giant pickle begins sliding down a flagpole. Image by Mt. Olive Pickles.

Depending on where you are, you can welcome the new year with a laugh and a cheer as a pickle, a pelican, a possum, an acorn, a duck, a Moon Pie and a pair of flip-flops descend from on high.

Perhaps the most tongue-in-cheek celebration is the Mt. Olive Pickle Drop staged by the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. in Mt. Olive, N.C. What started as a company event in 1999 now is a public party that draws several thousand people to the corner of Cucumber and Vine (that’s a real address) to watch an electrified green pickle slide down the company’s 45-foot flagpole into what it calls an “imperfectly preserved redwood pickle barrel.”

That’s after musical performances, line dancing and refreshments – hot chocolate, cookies and pickles. The pickle plunge is at 7 p.m., which the early-to-bed organizers quickly note is midnight Greenwich Mean Time. Expect a celebrity appearance by the company mascot, Ollie Q. Cumber.

Pensacola, Fla., also offers an early evening celebration, the Pelican Drop, in which the star is a 900-pound pelican that has a 17-foot wingspan and a majestic coat of plumage that consists of 2,000 handmade feathers.

pelican drop
The stadium of the Blue Wahoos baseball team in Pensacola is where a giant pelican lands on New Year’s Eve. Image by Pensacola Blue Wahoos.

This free family event is from 6-8 p.m. in the stadium of the city’s minor league baseball team, the Blue Wahoos. The stadium overlooks Pensacola Bay and is one of the prettiest places anywhere to watch a baseball game or the Pelican Drop. Music, fireworks and on-field activities add to the fun.

Staying with the bird theme, consider the Duck Drop in Havre de Grace, Md. Why a duck? It’s because Chesapeake Bay waterfowling is a huge deal here, and that means locals know to bring their duck calls to the festivities and “quack in the new year” as the big duck descends from a fire department ladder truck.

This is a traditional midnight event near the Concord Point Lighthouse complemented by a fireworks show set off from a barge nearby in the bay. The giant foam duck has been flying in for a New Year’s Eve landing since 1999.

Shift gears from birds to marsupials for the Possum Drop in Tallapoosa, Ga., which calls itself “North Georgia’s largest family friendly New Year’s Eve celebration.” It’s great small-town fun when a stuffed possum named Spencer is lowered from one of the town’s tallest buildings. Spencer rides in is a big ball covered with holiday lights. Ten thousand people watched last year.

An Eagles tribute band, festival food, fireworks and an Elvis impersonator also are part of the evening’s fun. Why have an Elvis impersonator at a Possum Drop? Well, the Elvis impersonator is alive. The possum is stuffed.

moon pie drop
Mobile loves MoonPies because of Mardi Gras and uses a giant MoonPie for its New Year’s Eve celebration. Image by

Nobody would eat a stuffed possum, but almost everyone would eat a MoonPie (that’s the way the maker spells the confection’s name), and about 50,000 people a year come to see a 600-pound MoonPie drop along a downtown bank building on New Year’s Eve in Mobile.

A falling MoonPie might not make much sense until you learn that MoonPies are a favorite “throw” during Mardi Gras parades and that Mobile makes a solid claim to being the original location of a Mardi Gras celebration – long before New Orleans was founded. The city stages the MoonPie Over Mobile Celebration that includes a laser light show and fireworks.

An acorn is a city symbol in Raleigh, N.C., so it makes sense that a giant acorn sculpture is what falls through the night sky on New Year’s Eve. It actually falls twice as part of the WRAL First Night Raleigh celebration (7 p.m. and midnight).

To put is plainly, it’s a big nut. It is made of steel and pieces of copper from the North Carolina capitol dome and weighs 1,250 pounds. Most of the year, it’s a piece of art at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, but it gets moved in December for the First Night spectacle. It dangles from a very big construction crane until just the right moment.

First Night is practically an all-day affair that’s very family friendly and alcohol free. There’s a daytime children’s celebration at the North Carolina Museums of History and Sciences, a hundred musical performances in three dozen locations and, once again, fireworks.

flip flop drop
Folly Beach, S.C., lives up to its beach heritage by creating a sparkling pair of flip flops for its celebration. Image by City of Folly Beach.

Beach towns have a head start on fun most of the year, and Folly Beach, S.C., near Charleston does its part every December with its Flip Flop Drop. Restaurants stay open late, family-oriented festivities begin at 10 p.m. and the most blinged-up pair of flip flops you’ve ever seen sparkle in all their glittery glory at midnight.

Trip-planning resources: Mt. Olive Pickle Drop, Pelican Drop, Duck Drop, Possum Drop, WRAL First Night Raleigh, MoonPie Over Mobile Celebration, Flip Flop Drop

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

Published December 21, 2018

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