12/26/17 — The public is invited Sunday to the annual pickle drop

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The public is invited Sunday to the annual pickle drop

By From staff reports
Published in News on December 26, 2017 5:50 AM

MOUNT OLIVE -- Celebrating New Year's Eve is a big dill for the Mt. Olive Pickle Co.

And the public is invited to relish in the celebration on Sunday, Dec. 31, at the company's annual New Year's Eve Pickle Drop at the corner of Cucumber and Vine streets.

The New Year's Eve Pickle descends the flagpole at the stroke of 7 p.m. midnight - that's 7 o'clock EST, which also happens to be midnight Greenwich Mean Time.

"That way, we are official, we shout Happy New Year! -- and we don't have to stay up until midnight," said Lynn Williams, company spokesperson.

"This has turned into a great event for families and children, as well as older adults. It's early, it's quick, and it's just a lot of fun."

In the last several years thousands have turned out to watch the lighted, 3-foot pickle drop down the company's 45-foot flagpole and into a perfectly preserved redwood pickle tank at precisely 7 o'clock.

Video screens mark the countdown of the year's final hour, from 6 to 7 p.m.

The Harmony Boys will perform from 5:30 to 6:15 p.m. and then DJ L.J. Manley will lead the crowd in line dancing.

Free refreshments -- hot chocolate, cookies and pickles -- will be served.

Another part of the Pickle Drop tradition is the canned food drive for the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

Those bringing canned food, or who make financial contributions, receive a chance to win door prizes at the evening's end.

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

* No pets, please.

* The company's gift shop will be open that day from 3 to 7 p.m.

* For driving directions to Mt. Olive Pickle, go to www.picklemap.com.

* The physical address for the main plant and gift shop is One Cucumber Boulevard, Mount Olive, NC 28365.

* Handicapped parking will be available at the company's front gate.

* General parking is available on the plant site. Watch for directions. Immediately after the event, all gates are opened for a reasonably quick exit.

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

The Pickle Drop was started in 1999 by the late Johnny Walker, Mt. Olive Pickle Co. president emeritus.

Walker had been inspired by a 1950s publicity stunt by Pickle Packers International in Chicago that invited past World War II bombardiers -- who claimed they were so accurate they could drop a bomb in a pickle barrel -- to drop pickles from a skyscraper into barrels on the sidewalk.

In that first year of the Pickle Drop, eight people attended, including company mascot Mr. Crisp.

Mr. Crisp has since retired, and Ollie Q. Cumber is the new mascot.

In 2001 the event opened to the public and has grown ever since with new additions and improvements made every year.

First, a countdown marquee was added.

Next, the pickle was rigged with interior lights.

The usual "splash" of the pickle dropping into the barrel -- created by someone throwing a bucket of water behind the scenes -- has been replaced by water shot into the air followed by a balloon release.

In business since 1926 in its hometown of Mount Olive, Mt. Olive Pickle Co. manufactures the No. 1 brand of pickles, peppers and relishes in the U.S.