Virtually Dropping Pants, Peeps, and All Sorts of Other Things: How Pennsylvania Towns Are Celebrating the New Year in the Pandemic

Bethlehem commemorates the beginning of a new year with the dropping of a 4-foot, 9-inches tall, 400-pound yellow Peep. (Courtesy of SteelStacks)

By Ashley Adams

December 29, 2020

The abundance of hometown pride is evident in the different New Year’s Eve celebrations across the state, but this year the Pennsylvania traditions are changing a bit because of the pandemic.

When it comes to New Year’s Eve, no state knows how to ring in the coming year quite like Pennsylvania.

Cities and towns across the commonwealth have put their own hometown-spin on a time-honored tradition. From pickles and bologna to mushrooms and strawberries, Pennsylvanians drop (or raise) some of the most unusual items in the country. 

Read on for just a handful of the many year-end celebrations with a hometown twist held throughout the state—and which ones are going virtual this year.

Bethlehem

Bethlehem commemorates the beginning of a new year with the dropping of a 4-foot, 9-inches tall, 400-pound yellow Peep. The annual PeepsFest is a two-day event celebrating the marshmallow candies made in the Lehigh Valley.

This year, PeepsFest is virtual, and it will feature cooking demonstrations, science experiments with Peeps crafts, and music. Watch a livestream of the Peep drop beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Dillsburg

Although Dillsburg has nothing to do with pickles, the town knows how to have fun with its name. To celebrate the new year, a delicious dill known as Mr. Pickle is dropped into a barrel in the center of town.

Due to the pandemic, the pickle drop has been canceled for this year.

Duncannon

A 10-foot sled lights up the night every New Year’s Eve in Duncannon. It represents a popular model of sled called the Lightning Guider once manufactured at the Standard Sled Factory in Duncannon.

The sled drop has been canceled this year due to the pandemic and related restrictions.

Harrisburg

At 60 seconds before midnight, a giant, lit strawberry starts its descent to ring in the New Year in Harrisburg. While strawberries are grown nearby, Harrisburg isn’t particularly known for strawberries and there is no major industry in the area related to the fruit. Instead, Harrisburg drops a strawberry in recognition of its Strawberry Square shopping center.

The city won’t drop the strawberry this year. Instead, it will hold a video countdown on Facebook that will feature various businesses and landmarks in the city and a compilation of fireworks from previous years.

Hershey

“The Sweetest Place on Earth” puckers up for a decadent new year with the raising of a Hershey’s Kiss and a midnight fireworks display every year.

Although there will be no Kiss this year, a bigger and better fireworks show will be launched at midnight from the same Hersheypark Drive location used for the annual Independence Day display.

Kennett Square

The “Mushroom Capital of the World” drops a 700-pound glowing mushroom at the stroke of midnight as a nod to the town’s acres of fungus farms.

You can park your car at Kennett High School and watch the 8th annual event from your car, or watch it from the comfort of your living room live on Facebook starting at 10:15 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Lancaster & York

It’s a war of the roses every New Year’s Eve as Lancaster drops a red rose and York does the same with a white rose. The roses represent the British House of Lancaster and the House of York, which fought a series of bloody civil wars over the throne of England centuries ago.

The red rose countdown in Lancaster’s Binn Park has been canceled this year. York will celebrate virtually starting at 10:30 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Lebanon

In Lebanon, a famous Pennsylvania Dutch deli meat descends from the sky as the last seconds of the year are counted down. A 16-foot cylinder of Lebanon bologna comes to a stop at the stroke of midnight and is then donated to local charities.

The city will livestream the 24th annual event from its Facebook page starting at 11:50 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Lisburn

At the stroke of midnight on Dec. 31, the village of Lisburn drops its pants. Literally. The 5-foot tall pair of yellow breeches is a playful reference to the Yellow Breeches Creek that flows through the town’s park.

The town will hold a virtual celebration this year on YouTube starting at 11:58 p.m. on Dec. 31.

Mechanicsburg

To honor the mechanics that originally settled in the area, Mechanicsburg drops an 85-pound galvanized steel wrench on the eve of the new year. The tradition started in 2004.

But 2020 has thrown its own wrench into the mix, and the tool tumble has been canceled this year. 

Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh does its own ball drop. The “Future of Pittsburgh” ball is a 1,000-pound orb made of 100% recycled materials. It’s a symbol of Pittsburgh being a green city. 

This New Year’s Eve, the celebration has been adapted for a one-hour, TV-only special. If you live in the area, tune in to KDKA-TV or CBSN Pittsburgh at 11 p.m. Dec. 31 for a countdown to midnight Pittsburgh-style.

Pottsville

New Year’s Eve in Pottsville is celebrated with the raising of a Yuengling beer bottle as a toast to the local brewery. The 6-foot-tall bottle has been a city tradition since 2003.

You’ll have to raise a different beer bottle in 2020 to toast the new year as this event has been canceled.

Red Lion

To commemorate its cigar-making heritage, Red Lion greets the new year by raising a giant cigar held aloft by a yellow lion. It’s been a tradition for almost 25 years.

This year’s celebration has been stubbed out by the coronavirus pandemic.

Shippensburg

Shippensburg embraces its nautical town name by dropping an anchor into the new year.

But the ship has been grounded this year, and the anchor drop has been canceled.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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