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Say this for Pennsylvania: We like our balls. At least on New Year’s Eve.
New York may have the OG ball drop in Times Square, but Pennsylvania dominates in terms of quantity. At least 18 cities and towns will be raising or dropping some type of object on New Year’s Eve.
Unofficially no other state compares. For some reason, Wikipedia tracks the different objects dropped on NYE throughout the United States, and Pennsylvania comes out miles ahead of any other state. If you include several other cities that had celebrations with ball-like drops in the past with the current drops, Pennsylvania is at 52. Contrast that with the No. 2 state, New York. It has 13 current and past ball drops.
Notably missing from the Pennsylvania list: Philadelphia. We’re not dropping any objects this year and it seems we never have, at least in modern history. We did once have a styrofoam model of the Liberty Bell at a major New Year’s Eve party the year of the bicentennial, but it didn’t drop. And in 1975 on New Year’s Eve, the real Liberty Bell was ceremonially moved at midnight to its current location.
Jerry Blavat, better known as the Geator with the Heater, is as good an authority on partying in Philadelphia as anyone, and his memory stretches back “at least nine different mayors.” Blavat can’t recall any type of ball ceremony here.
“Philadelphia, which is the city of Brotherly Love, really doesn’t need a ball to drop because the ball drops every day in Philadelphia,” he said. “People are always partying.”
This is indeed true. Philly has a little more going on than, say, Blain, Pennsylvania, which used to drop a wooden cow from a silo on New Year’s Eve. When I called the borough office in Blain (population 261) to see whether they still did it, the woman who answered the phone noted they didn’t do it last year and that a resident named Travis did all the previous planning. He didn’t answer his phone.
Philadelphia generally is not a big New Year’s Eve city, either, thanks to a DUI that catapulted Dick Clark to fame and the New Year’s Day Mummers tradition. Aside from the fireworks on the Delaware River, Philly has no mass-scale celebration.
Someday, perhaps, a Rocky statue will drop from the sky along the Delaware. For now, here’s a list of everything scheduled to drop in Pennsylvania on New Year’s Eve.
Hanover, in York County, has a popular arcade but no connection to Pac-Man. That hasn’t stopped the town from dropping a lit up 3×3 foot image of it.
Future of Pittsburgh Ball, Pittsburgh
This is a 1,000 pound orb made of 100 percent recycled materials. It’s a symbol of Pittsburgh being a green city. The city has been raising the ball on NYE since 2007.
Cast-iron kettle, McClure
McClure, located between State College and Harrisburg, has a bean soup festival that’s a pretty big deal. The kettle represents it.
They call him Bucky and he is dropped 75 feet from a firetruck ladder.
Red Rose, Lancaster
White Rose, York
Both of these celebrations symbolize the Wars of the Roses. Lancaster and York didn’t actually fight, though. Their War of the Roses is a sporting rivalry between scholastic teams. The actual Wars of Roses were between Houses York and Lancaster in England centuries ago.
Mechanics actually settled Mechanicsburg. Thus the wrench.
Duncannon, near Hershey, lights up a giant sled to represent a popular model of sled called the Lightning Guider once manufactured by Standard Sled Factory.
Giant Yuengling beer bottle, Pottsville
Maybe Eric Trump will show up this year.
Harrisburg had an early street called Harrisburg Alley. That later begat Strawberry Square and a connection with strawberries that made it into the NYE celebration.
Each year there’s a competition to see who can come up with the design that will be featured on a 50-pound button come New Year’s Eve.
Dillsburg, so a giant dill pickle.
The bologna drop is one of the older NYE traditions, this being the 20th year for it. In the past they used to drop a 200 pound piece of meat. This year they’ve switched to 20 10-pound blocks so organizers can better donate the meat to school programs.
Hershey’s kiss, Hershey
CNN actually came to watch the raising of the Hershey’s kiss in 2015.
Peeps were founded in Bethlehem. The tradition of dropping a massive one on New Year’s Eve is a new part of a Peeps winter festival.
Mushroom, Kennett Square
The mushroom is made of stainless steel and weighs 700 pounds.
Akron, Pa., located in Lancaster County, has for years dropped an oversized purple and yellow sneaker. This year is going to be extra special because a 40-foot permanent pole was recently installed for the shoe drop.
Yellow breeches, Lower Allen Township
They are yellow and they are five feet tall.