12/27/11 — Pickle Drop to usher in new year

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Pickle Drop to usher in new year

By Kelly
Published in News on December 27, 2011 1:50 PM

MOUNT OLIVE -- The town of Mount Olive is home to one of the "Quirkiest New Year's Celebrations," according to TripAdvisor.com and the employees of Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

Last year, the travel website named the town's annual Pickle Drop as the top quirky New Year's celebration in the country. Every New Year's for the past 13 years, a 3-foot fiberglass lighted pickle has dropped down a 45-foot flagpole at the company at 7 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

Hundreds of people are expected to attend the event again this year.

The first pickle drop was held with a small group of eight employees in 1999. It was former Mt. Olive Pickle Co. President Johnny Walker who came up with the original idea.

"We thought it was a hoot," said Lynn Williams, a spokesman for the company.

In 2000, about 50 people attended the drop, including employees and their families, she said.

It was about that time that organizers realized that 7 p.m. EST is also midnight Greenwich Mean Time. That meant attendees did not have to wait until midnight to technically witness the ushering in of the new year.

Since then, the crowd has grown to about 2,000 people.

"We were amazed that that many people had the same weird sense of humor that we did," Mrs. Williams said.

After the pickle drops, the American flag is returned to its normal position at the top of the pole. This year, a flag given to the company by Maj. Anthony Smith of the U.S. Army Task Force 86 Combat Support Hospital in Iraq will be flown after the drop.

The party atmosphere will be enhanced by live music by The Harmony Boys and Dr. Alan Armstrong and free refreshments and pickles.

The Mt. Olive Pickle Co. gift shop will also be open. The tickets for door prizes will be given out to those who donate canned food items to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. Prizes are drawn immediately after the pickle drops. The family who has traveled the farthest also receives a door prize.

In previous years, people from as far away as Alaska, Scotland, Ireland and Hawaii have attended the drop.

"I think we've sort of made people's bucket list of New Year's Eve celebrations," Mrs. Williams said.

Maintenance Utilities Superintendent Ray Joyner has also been involved with the Pickle Drop since it began. He said the pickle is brought out from its hiding spot the day before the drop. The day of the drop, the maintenance crew and other employees cook and prepare for the celebration.

"This is what the company does to give back to the community," Joyner said. "We just have a blast."

For more information about the event, call (800) 672-5041 or Lynn Williams at 581-3628.