12/29/06 — Pickle drop Sunday at 7 p.m.

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Pickle drop Sunday at 7 p.m.

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on December 29, 2006 1:45 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- A few tweaks to the New Year's Eve pickle and a new location for the countdown marquee are among the changes for Mt. Olive Pickle Co.'s 8th annual New Year's Eve Pickle Drop.

"Our maintenance folks are really picky about the pickle," said Lynn Williams, company spokesman. "They have worked to give it a little more polish this year. We've gone from ropes to less visible wire to get the job done."

The pickle makes its New Year's Eve descent down the company's flagpole and into a perfectly preserved redwood pickle tank at the stroke of 7 p.m.

For anyone wondering about the timing, 7 o'clock Eastern Standard Time is midnight Greenwich Mean Time, so technically the new year has arrived, at least in Great Britain.

"We are official, we can shout 'Happy New Year', sing Auld Lang Syne, and still be home in bed long before midnight," Ms. Williams said.

The company's marquee counts down the final hour and ensures the pickle makes its 45-foot plunge right on time. This year, it has a new location -- about six feet above the tank. "We've always hung the marquee on the tank itself," Ms. Williams said. "But it really wasn't visible for folks standing back in the crowd. Hanging it up higher should make a better countdown experience for everyone."

The event gets underway at 6 p.m. at the corner of Cucumber and Vine streets in Mount Olive. This year's event also marks the conclusion of the company's 80th anniversary observed in 2006. Mt. Olive Pickle Co. was established by local business people in 1926. Today, the privately held company produces the second best-selling brand of pickles in the country.

The first pickle drop was held on New Year's Eve in 1999. That year, a handful of company employees and Mr. Crisp, the company's mascot, dropped a pool pickle into a brine tank to commemorate Mt. Olive's designation as the "Official Pickle and Pepper of the Millennium."

The first public event was held in 2001 with about 250 people watching.

Attendance has grown steadily each year, and last year's event drew about 1,000 people.

Festivities this year start at 6, with live music by The Harmony Boys and Alan Armstrong on the bagpipes. The company's gift shop will open at 5:30 p.m. Free refreshments will also be served. Canned food for the Salvation Army.

Driving directions are available on the company's website, www.mtolivepickles.com.