Thursday, January 01, 2009

North Carolina New Years' traditions

They may have one of those gaudy, bright ball drops in Times Square, but New York City doesn't have a thing on North Carolina.

In Mount Olive, NC, they have a pickle drop. A three foot long lighted pickle is lowered down the flag pole at the Mount Olive Pickle Company on the corner of Cucumber and Vine in Mount Olive. It made Trip Advisor's top ten quirkiest News Years Eve events. They drop the pickle promptly at 7pm -- Greenwich Mean Time.

"That way, we are official, we shout Happy New Year! -- and we don't have to stay up until midnight," company spokesman Lynn Williams said. "We advise those attending to get here early, because the whole thing's over at 7:05."

The Pickle Drop is based on a boast made by World War II bombardiers that they were so accurate, they could drop a bomb into a pickle barrel. And in the 1950s they were invited by Pickle Packers International to test this skill by dropping pickles off a skyscraper into barrels on the sidewalk below. This idea germinated in the minds of Mt Olive Pickle employees, and in 1999, the first Pickle Drop was held in front of 8 people. This year they expect 2,000. See video of the 2009 pickle drop here.

In Brasstown, NC, on the NC/GA line, they have a possum drop. Clay Logan lowers a live possum in a cage from the roof of his country store, Clay's Corner at Brasstown Road and Old 64West. Logan said, “One man’s roadkill is another man’s icon,” and that began the possum drop. The possum, named O.P. for Old Possum, is lowered in a plexiglass box with the ceremony presided over by 2008's Possum Queen, the winner of last year's womanless beauty pageant. And just before the possum is lowered, everybody (an estimated 2,000 in attendance), gets a hug from somebody else. This year was the 14th possum drop. No alcohol is allowed. “We advertise it as the only New Year's party that you remember what you done the next day,” Logan said.

In Huntersville, NC, they have First Footin'. That's a three mile hike through some woods. If you haven't made the connection with New Year celebration, neither have I. And they say you should definitely call them for "exact directions" to find their farm. It might be a good story for the grandchildren one day about how you got lost in the woods in Huntersville one New Years Day. But probably not.

In Oriental, NC, they get a little spooky. The Oriental Dragon Run on Dec. 31, gives visitors a chance to touch the dragon for good luck during two runs along the waterfront. I think they've got that one mixed up with Chinese New Year.

In Raleigh, they drop a 1,250 pound acorn, being that Raleigh is, after all, the City of Oaks. Wouldn't Sir Walter Raleigh be proud? Let's hope A.C.O.R.N. doesn't hear about this, or they'll be out on Moore Square signing up oak tree species to vote.