Pickle Drop returns to UMO

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The New Year’s Eve pickle will make its official drop Dec. 31 into 2022 on the campus of the University of Mount Olive.

“We are dill-lighted that we can return to the live event, and we have the experiences of the past two years to make this year even bigger and better,” said Lynn Williams, Mt. Olive Pickle Company spokesperson.

The parking area of the university’s Kornegay Arena served as a temporary location for 2019. In 2020, the pickle drop was an online celebration thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. For 19 years prior, the pickle drop was staged at the Mt. Olive Pickle Company headquarters on the corner of Cucumber and Vine.

“In 2019 we had a huge construction project on our plant site, and it wasn’t practical to hold a public event there at the time,” Williams said. “So, the university graciously allowed us to stage the Pickle Drop there that year. That night, we looked around and said ‘oh, this is really nice.’ We had so much more room, better parking, and safer, easier access for the folks who attended.”

For 2021, then, much of what made the 2019 event better comes back – a great site, more food trucks, another 10-minute fireworks display and the Mount Olive Fire Department’s tower truck to assist with dropping the pickle. 

In 2020, the online version of the Pickle Drop included a virtual food drive to benefit the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina. That returns for 2021, too.

“The food drive has been a Pickle Drop tradition since the beginning,” Williams said. “Last year we were able to raise over $5,000 online, which Mt. Olive Pickle matched. Even though we couldn’t hold the Pickle Drop and the canned food drive as always last year, we were still able to make an impact for Food Bank. It was logical to us to include that component again for 2021.”

For the live event, those bringing canned food or making a financial contribution receive a chance to win door prizes from the Mt. Olive Pickle Company gift shop at the evening’s end. 

The grand prize is a pool pickle similar to the one that is dropped.

The New Year’s Eve Pickle Drop, first held in 1999 and attended by a handful of Mt. Olive Pickle employees, annually draws several thousand people.

The family-friendly event gets underway at 5:30 p.m. with live music from The Harmony Boys and line dancing led by deejay L.J. Manley.

The glowing, three-and-a-half-foot pickle drops from the Mount Olive Volunteer Fire Department’s tower truck promptly at 7 p.m., followed by the song “Auld Lang Syne” and fireworks.

“After that, the party is over. We will have ushered in 2022 officially, if just a little early, and most of us can still be home in bed before midnight,” Williams said. “Some things just never change.”

For those who can’t make it in person, watch it live on New Year’s Eve on the web at www.mtolivepickles.com.

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