When the ball just won’t do: The wacky things Pennsylvania drops on New Year’s Eve

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 20, 2023

The abundance of hometown pride is evident in the different New Year’s Eve celebrations across the state, when weird things start dropping at midnight.

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 some of the many year-end celebrations with a unique hometown twist held throughout the state.


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 will take place entirely outdoors with family-friendly activities and fireworks. Ring in the new year from 3 to 6 p.m. Dec. 30 and 31 with the dropping of the Peep taking place at 5:35 p.m. each night.


Gettysburg started a new tradition last year, the raising of Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat to countdown to midnight in Lincoln Square. This year, the raising of the hat will take place during a celebration that starts at 4 p.m. in the middle of town.


One minute 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.

On Dec. 31, the City of Harrisburg will host the annual New Year’s Eve celebration with the strawberry drop and fireworks at midnight. There will also be a Countdown to Kid-Night event starting at 9 p.m.


“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.

Beginning at 8 p.m. in downtown Hershey this New Year’s Eve, there will be food and drink vendors as well as entertainment, with the night culminating in a Kiss countdown with the Hershey’s characters and then a fireworks display.

Kennett Square

The “Mushroom Capital of the World” drops a 700-pound stainless steel mushroom at the stroke of midnight as a nod to the town’s acres of fungus farms. The festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. on State and Union Streets.


It’s all about the rose every New Year’s Eve in York as the city drops a white rose to kick off the new year. The rose represents the House of York, which fought a series of bloody civil wars over the throne of England centuries ago.

York will celebrate with a kids’ countdown in Voni Grimes Gym starting at 5 p.m. and other festivities starting at 11 p.m. in Continental Square.


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 bologna will drop again this year on Dec. 31 with the celebration starting at 7 p.m.


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.

The town celebrates the New Year from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. in front of the Washington Fire Company at 53 E. Main St.


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 begins at 6 p.m. in the Cultural District.


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

This year’s festivities start at 8 p.m. on East King Street, between Earl and Penn streets.


  • 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.


Local News

Related Stories
Share This