Up until recently, it seemed as though this New Year’s Eve was going to be brighter than last year — and while the day may be literally brighter thanks to the return of many beloved in-person events like fireworks (above the Delaware River in Philly, in Hershey, and more) and midnight ball drops, things are still far from “normal.”
While some ball drops still may not be taking place this year, there are many that are back and in-person for 2021. And Pennsylvania has some one-of-a-kind ball drop traditions — the definition of “ball drop” in the state seems to mean the dropping, or hoisting, of pickles, strawberries, and the other eccentric objects that towns traditionally use to end the year.
Here are some unusual drops happening in Pennsylvania this New Year’s Eve.
A large figure known as Mr. Pickle is lowered at midnight, and a smaller version (perhaps a gherkin?) is lowered earlier for children (the “Lil’ Dill Drop”). Located in front of the borough hall on South Baltimore Street, this year’s pickle drop promises a range of events including shopping, food from local restaurants, and a fireworks show. (Free, Dec. 31, event begins at 4:30 p.m.; pickle drop at midnight, 151 S. Baltimore St., Dillsburg, carrolltownship.com)
The strawberry, a reference to Harrisburg’s Strawberry Square Shopping Center, descends at 11:59 p.m. Fireworks, live music, food, a beer garden, and more are all part of the night. (Dec. 31, 10 p.m.-midnight, 245 Championship Way, Harrisburg, explorehbg.com)
The city drops a giant galvanized steel wrench, which commemorates the mechanics who settled in the area to repair wagons that were traveling west after crossing the Susquehanna River. Festivities also include a DJ, raffle, silent auction, and a glass-blowing demonstration. (Dec. 31, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. 53 E. Main St., Mechanicsburg, wrenchdrop.org)
The city switches things up by raising a Hershey’s Kiss at 11:59 p.m. Then, as soon as the clock strikes midnight, fireworks light up the skies in Chocolatetown Square. (Dec. 31, 11:59 p.m., Chocolate & Park Avenues, Hershey, hersheynewyears.org)
This ceremony at the iconic SteelStacks occurs just after sundown on both Thursday and Friday, and features the dropping of a 400-pound Peeps chick (just under five feet long). After the giant peep has dropped, a fireworks display fills the sky. (Dec. 30-31, 3-6 p.m., 101 Founders Way, Bethlehem, steelstacks.org)
The city of Lebanon annually unleashes a massive (and real) bologna. The bologna is raised at 8 p.m. and then dropped with the start of the new year at midnight. (Dec. 31, 7 p.m.-midnight, South Eighth Street from Cumberland to Chestnut Streets, Lebanon)
The mushroom capital of the world raises a 700-pound, stainless-steel mushroom. The giant mushroom will be raised up at 8:55 p.m. on Dec. 31, although New Year’s Eve celebrations begin at 7:30 p.m. with live performances by Kevin Pierce, KMC Dancers, and more. The annual laser show will take place later on in the evening, and will be streamed on Facebook and Instagram. (Dec 31, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., 600 Broad St., Kennett Square, midnightinthesquare.com)
Pants, or yellow breeches, if you like are a shout-out to nearby Yellow Breeches Creek, purportedly named by British soldiers after their white pants turned yellow when washed in its waters. A 10 p.m. event for children is on the books before the start of the new year, but as the township promises, “the breeches come down at midnight.” The event is free, and will have a DJ, free food and beverages, and games for all ages. (Dec. 31, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m., 4075 Lisburn Rd., Mechanicsburg, lowerallennewyearsdrop.wordpress.com)
Steven White contributed to this article.
This story includes earlier reporting from Grace Dickinson.