Pa. towns ring in the New Year with pickles, crayons, chips

    Many towns in the middle of Pennsylvania have regionalized the traditional ball-drop of New Year’s Eve.

    Earlier this week, Harrisburg party planners were in the midst of preparations.

    First thing to drop is the temperature.

    John Reis, the top chef at the Harrisburg Hilton, was making the ice sculptures for the city’s New Year’s Eve celebration. He wore insulated gloves as he took a chainsaw to huge ice blocks sitting on the sidewalk downtown.

    “As long as you can stand the cold and chop away until you get what you want,” Reis said. “And the worst that can come is if it doesn’t work out, you know, turn it into an ice cube and use it for your New Year’s Eve celebration or for cooling off your Champagne.”

    Reis is one of the folks prepping Harrisburg for its midnight strawberry drop. That’s been the tradition since 1988, when the Strawberry Square shopping complex was completed.

    Across the river in Cumberland County, Mechanicsburg residents drop a wrench as their nod to the local industry. Other emblems of industry that fall when the clock strikes 12 are a giant yellow Peeps chick in Bethlehem and a huge crayon in Easton.

    In Perry County’s Duncannon, they drop a sled, while in Lewistown, Mifflin County, it’s a giant bag of potato chips.

    Other New Year’s Eve traditions the folks in New York City’s Times Square may never have heard of include the annual pickle drop in Dillsburg, York County. In Dauphin County’s Hummelstown, a lollipop marks midnight while the folks in Allentown lower a liberty bell replica.

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