12/30/09 — Mount Olive getting ready for annual New Year's Eve party

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Mount Olive getting ready for annual New Year's Eve party

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on December 30, 2009 1:46 PM

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Lynn Williams, chairperson of this year's Pickle Drop, talks to Pete Evrard, center, with the company's maintenance department, and Ray Joyner head of the department about being ready for this year event that will be held Thursday at 7 p.m. at the corner of Cucumber and Vine streets in Mount Olive.

Mount Olive's famous giant pickle will fall into its vat at the stroke of midnight again Friday to ring in 2010 at the 11th annual Pickle Drop.

This year, the pickle company will open up Vine Street all the way to the company's west gate to make room for people attending the big countdown. The concessions stand will be moved to the end of the gift shop to clear out extra space, too, Mt. Olive Pickle Co. spokeswoman Lynn Williams said.

The pickle drop was founded in 1998 by Mount Olive Pickle Co. President Emeritus Johnny Walker.

More than 1,700 people attended the pickle drop on New Year's Eve 2008, and the extra room provided by opening up Vine Street should allow more room.

Additionally, the company will adjust the timing for the big pickle countdown. Usually it takes 12 seconds for the giant pickle to descend into the pickle vat, but this year, the descent will take 20 seconds. The change is meant to draw out the suspenseful moment, which in the past might not have been long enough for everyone to enjoy it, Ms. Williams said.

The pickle drop takes place at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, earlier than many New Year's Eve celebrations, making it a good choice for families hoping to welcome in 2010 but unable to stay up until midnight.

"This is a great event for families, we have people turn out early for this. It's a nice way to celebrate the new year," Ms. Williams said.

Also, 7 p.m. EST coincides with midnight Greenwich Mean Time,.

The west gate will open to the public beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31, and all attendees are asked to bring two non-perishable food items to donate to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina.

The Mount Olive Pickle Co. has been working in conjunction with the food bank to collect food for needy persons in North Carolina for several years, Ms. Williams said.

"We're real excited to work with the Food Bank of Central and Eastern Carolina," she said.

Door prizes from the gift shop will be given out to people who donate to the food bank.

As of Monday afternoon, the weather forecast for New Year's Eve called for rain, and Ms. Williams wasn't sure what effect that might have on the turnout for the pickle drop. Bad weather has not previously stopped people from attending the event, she pointed out.

"They've come out in very cold and windy and damp," she said.

While it's difficult to guess how many people will attend, the pickle drop has assembled more and more pickle fans every year since its founding, and this year will probably reflect that, Ms. Williams said.