Pickle drop 1

A crowd watches the descent of the New Year’s Eve pickle on Dec. 31, 2019, at the University of Mount Olive. This year’s Pickle Drop also will be Dec. 31 on the UMO campus.

The New Year’s Eve pickle will drop just a short distance from its Mt. Olive Pickle Co. roots again this year.

The live, in-person celebration will take place on the University of Mount Olive campus, as it did in 2019.

And again this year, Mt. Olive Pickle Co. is encouraging spectators, whether in-person or watching from home, to bring food or cash donations for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

“We’ve always hosted a food drive as part of the Pickle Drop, because typically after the holidays most food pantry supplies are depleted,” Lynn Williams, Mt. Olive Pickle Co. spokesperson, said in a news release. “Our food drive is important every year, but in this crazy time of COVID, it is even more so.”

Williams said the experiences of the past two years will make this year’s Pickle Drop “even bigger and better.”

Because of a construction project at the pickle company in 2019, it wasn’t practical that year to hold the Pickle Drop at its traditional site, the corner of Cucumber and Vine, Williams said.

“So, the university graciously allowed us to stage the Pickle Drop there that year,” Williams said. “That night, we looked around and said, ‘Oh, this is really nice.’ We had so much more room, better parking, and safer, easier access for the folks who attended.”

Then, in 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pickle drop was an online celebration, including a virtual food drive benefiting the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

“The food drive has been a Pickle Drop tradition since the beginning,” Williams said. “Last year we were able to raise over $5,000 online, which Mt. Olive Pickle matched. Even though we couldn’t hold the Pickle Drop and the canned food drive as always last year, we were still able to make an impact for the Food Bank.”

The food drive returns this year, both in-person and online.

This year’s celebration will get underway when food trucks begin serving at 5 p.m. Dec. 31 in front of UMO’s George and Annie Dail Kornegay Arena. The Harmony Boys will perform at 5:30 p.m. L.J. Manley as DJ will lead line dancing.

A glowing, 3-and-a-half-foot pickle will drop from the Mount Olive Fire Department’s tower truck into a giant pickle jar at 7 p.m., which coincides with midnight Greenwich Mean Time. “Auld Lang Syne” and a 10-minute fireworks display will follow.

The celebration will include free pickles courtesy of Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

Those bringing food or making a financial contribution to the Food Bank will receive a chance to win door prizes from the Mt. Olive Pickle Co. gift shop. The grand prize is a 3-foot pool pickle similar to the one that will be dropped.

Friends of the Raleigh-based Food Bank will double all contributions, up to $600,000, made through Dec. 31. Mt. Olive Pickle Co. will match up to $5,000 in donations for its virtual food drive, which ends Jan. 5.

“We are so grateful for the people who bring their donations or make a gift of money to the Food Bank on New Year’s Eve,” Williams said. “Their generosity makes the Pickle Drop extra special. We truly have the best fans ever.”

The New Year’s Eve Pickle Drop, first held in 1999, was attended by a handful of Mt. Olive Pickle Co. employees. The annual celebration has grown into an event that draws several thousand.

“We’ll remain at UMO as long as UMO is willing and gracious enough to let us stage it there,” Williams said.

Parking will be available on campus. Spectators are asked to bring their own chairs.

Those unable to attend in person can watch the event live online at www.mtolivepickles.com. Donations to the Food Bank can be made at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mt-olive-pickle-company1.

SUGGESTED FOOD DRIVE ITEMSMt. Olive Pickle Co. offered the following suggestions for food drive items. Pop-top items and microwavable cups are preferred.

•Canned fruits and vegetables

•Canned meats, beans and soups

•Cereals, whole grain pastas and rice

•Peanut butter

•Paper products

•Hygiene items: feminine products, hand sanitizer, toothbrushes, soap, shaving items, etc.

•For infants and children: diapers, wipes, formula, infant cereal, mac and cheese cups, crackers, juice boxes, etc.

•For seniors: nutritional shakes and drinks, adult hygiene products

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