12/26/10 — Pickle set for New Year's drop

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Pickle set for New Year's drop

By Staff Reports
Published in News on December 26, 2010 1:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- People who want to ring in the New Year, but have a difficult time staying awake to midnight can get an earlier start on the traditional festivities at the Mt. Olive Pickle Company's 12th annual New Year's Eve Pickle Drop.

Mount Olive and its giant pickle beat out slightly larger cities like Atlanta with its 800-pound peach, Raleigh with its 1,200-pound acorn and Miami with its 35-foot neon orange to earn top recognition among the 10 most quirky New Year's Eve celebrations as selected by editors of TripAdvisor(r), the world's largest travel site.

The giant plastic pickle will descend the company's 45-foot-flagpole at the corner of Cucumber & Vine into a perfectly preserved redwood pickle tank at the stroke of 7 p.m., which also happens to be midnight Greenwich Mean Time, on Friday, Dec. 31

"That way, we are official, we shout Happy New Year! -- and we don't have to stay up until midnight," said company spokesperson Lynn Williams.

The event starts at 6 p.m. with live music, free refreshments, and a canned food drive for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. Those who bring donations for the food bank receive a chance to win door prizes, including a pool pickle like the one the company uses for the Pickle Drop.

The company also awards pickles to the family that has traveled the farthest to attend. Two winners last year hailed from England and Ireland.

In addition to the live music, those attending can enjoy free refreshments -- hot chocolate, cookies, and Mt. Olive Pickles, of course -- as well as browse the company's gift shop, which will remain open until just before 7 p.m.

A crowd estimated at close to 2,000 people gathered at the Corner of Cucumber & Vine last year and Mrs. Williams anticipates another big crowd for 2010.

"We are adjusting our layout a bit to help accommodate the crowds better," she said. "This has evolved into a nice community event that grows a bit every year. And like always, we encourage people to get here early -- the whole thing's over at 7:05."

Samantha Casey and the Bluegrass Jam of Goldsboro will perform beginning at 6 p.m. Samantha, now 14, and her father, Daniel, made headlines in 2007 when they won the national Oreo and Milk Jingle Contest. The bluegrass band, which features Samantha on fiddle and vocals, regularly plays for events throughout eastern North Carolina.

"We are excited to have them join us for this year's Pickle Drop," Mrs. Williams said. "We have always had the Harmony Boys play for us, and unfortunately they cannot make it this year. I was thrilled that the Bluegrass Jam could step in. Like the Harmony Boys, they are a good fit for us, and they have a nice local following."

Other music will be provided by Dr. Alan Armstrong of Mount Olive College, who plays the bagpipes once the pickle has made its timely descent.

One change this year is that the company is asking people not bring their pets.

"We realize that for many pets are part of the family, and people like to include them in public celebrations like this one," Mrs. Williams said. "But as a food manufacturing facility we have limitations regarding animals on our premises. We hope folks will understand and leave their pets at home."