Town giant mushroom to star in local New Year's Eve celebration

Town giant mushroom: Kennet Sation, Pa.'s town giant mushroom will be the star of local New Year's Eve celebration. Several towns have adopted similarly quirky New Year's traditions.

Jason Vorhees/The Macon Telegraph/AP
Town giant mushroom: Some towns are planning to start their own New Years' Eve traditions to rival New York's Times Square ball drop. While Kennet Station, Pa. will drop a giant mushroom at midnight, the mayor of Perry, Ga., shown here, announced plans last month to ring in the new year with a buzzard drop.

Rarely is it a joyful experience to have a giant fungus among us but in one Pennsylvania town a giant mushroom will drop on the populace to ring in 2014, reminding us that traditions don’t have to be old – they just have to be memorable.

“I’d hate to see the toad that comes next,” was my 10-year-old son’s reaction to hearing that a 700-pound, stainless steel toadstool will be lowered from a crane Dec. 31 as residents of Kennett Square, Pa. count down to the New Year.

The town's giant mushroom sculpture will be more than 7 feet wide and 8 feet tall, a nod to the town’s share of the national mushroom market. The area’s farms account for about half of US mushroom production, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In other New Year news, the town of Perry, Ga. is going to drop a buzzard in honor of the annual buzzard migration there.

New York City may host the Apple Drop ... and Georgia’s own Atlanta will host the pride of the Peach State’s Peach Drop,” Faircloth told the Macon Telegraph. “However, here in Perry, we were thinking of something more original.”

Pennsylvania really has the drop on other states when it comes to New Year’s Eve countdowns: Lebanon, Pa. drops bologna, Bethlehem lowers an 85-pound statue of a Marshmallow Peep, Easton drops a 10-foot-tall lighted crayon because the city is home to Crayola Inc.

Yet other cities are getting on top of things, too, with Brasstown, N.C. lowering a live possum and Mobile, Al. dropping a massive Moon Pie.

Learning this prompted me to call our city’s PR manager, Lori Crouch and ask about The City of Norfolk’s New Year’s Eve plans, “Are we ever gonna drop a mega mermaid at midnight?”

Our city motto after all is “Life celebrated daily” and our symbol is the mermaid, so this was a perfectly reasonable thing to ask.

To my surprise she paused as if I’d stumbled on a major state secret and she had to weigh the answer.

“Well, actually, we just might,” Ms. Crouch answered. “Festevents has been talking about creating a New Year’s Eve event and there have been discussions about what we would drop. A mermaid is actually a great idea.”

We didn’t discuss if the mermaid would be live (an actress in costume) like the Brasstown possum or one of the 300, larger than life, 8-foot mermaid sculptures that currently decorate our city’s streets.

Personally, New Year’s has never been my holiday because I’m a homebody, alcohol-based partying has never been my thing, and as I get older I tend to hate to let go of each year.

However, as a mom I have found a great deal of value in embracing as many new traditions as possible for my boys to enjoy.

As my kids get older I think more about what traditions of ours they will carry on and I worry that I haven’t celebrated life enough with them.

So in the past few years I have begun to add our own quirky new holiday twists to remember their childhoods by.

I wrote a children’s book for Thanksgiving “Pardon me, it’s ham, not turkey,” about the fact that Virginia and not Plymouth, Ma. was the true site of the nation’s first Thanksgiving and the menu was different.

That year we had ham for Thanksgiving, got the school principal to kiss a piglet named Ginny (for Virginia), met President George W. Bush when he came to Berkeley Plantation to celebrate the true location of the feast, and in the process got head-butted by the then-president.

At the time the Secret Service agent told my son Ian, then age 11, “That’s the Presidential forehead touch and he only does it with people he really likes.”

Uh-huh. Three forehead bonks later Ian asked, “Is this going to be our new tradition? Do we do ham and head butts now?”

Short answer was, “No, but we can tell this story every year at Thanksgiving dinner.”

That’s what holidays are really all about, not the perfect dinner or Rockwell-worthy gathering, but the memorable tales we share about the experiences be they mushroom, moon pie, or mermaid.

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