What To Do: Ring in the new year in style

By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times

Kennett Square Mushroom Drop

New Year’s Eve is about partying – dining, drinking, welcoming the new year and…partying.

The biggest party night of the year is the highlight of the schedule for the next week. Tuesday night is December 31 – New Year’s Eve.

On New Year’s Eve, Kennett Square will be partying in style at its annual “Midnight in the Square” (downtown Kennett Square, midnightinthesquare.com).

Young children and their parents are invited to kick off Kennett Square’s New Year’s Eve celebration at 6:30 p.m. this year. The event will feature food, activities, a laser light show and live entertainment until 8:45 p.m. when the “raising” and the “lighting” of the huge 500-pound stainless steel Mushroom will take place.

The Mushroom Drop Party at the Garage Community & Youth Center (115 South Union Street) opens at 8 p.m. Food, beer and wine will be available for purchase.

The Funsters will perform live music from 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Later in the evening comes the main event — Kennett Square’s Seventh Annual Mushroom Drop. The brightly lit massive fungi will start drop at midnight in celebration of the arrival of 2020.

For admission, attendees are requested to bring non-perishable food items to support local Kennett Area Community Service Food Cupboard. KACS will have two trucks at the event as well as volunteers to collect your donations.

The list of attractions also includes a laser show that starts at 6 p.m. and is presented every hour until midnight and performances by Bob Croce, Rose Project, Harmonia Circus and KMC Dancers.

Food vendors will be on State Street starting at 6 p.m. with a wide array of tasty food items from On The Roll Food Truck.

Many of Kennett Square’s restaurants and shops will be open for Midnight in the Square. Some of the participants for in Saturday’s event will be Grain, Kennett Brewing Company, Kennett Square Inn, LaVerona, Lily’s Asian Cuisine, Verbena BYOB and Portabello’s.

Parking is available at Exelon Way off East Baltimore Pike with free shuttle buses running from 9 p.m.-1:30 a.m.

There are regulations on open containers in the Borough of Kennett Square. Open container laws refer to anything regulating open alcohol containers in public or in vehicles. Adherence to the local laws is mandatory and will be enforced.

The most famous New Year’s Eve “drops” are the extravagant Waterford Crystal ball in Times Square in New York City, the peach in Atlanta and the orange in Miami Beach.

There are quite a few “drops” worth checking out that are within a short drive from Chester County including Yuengling Beer bottle in Pottsville, strawberry in Harrisburg, Pac-Man in Hanover, Lebanon Bologna in Lebanon, Marshmallow Peep in Bethlehem, Hershey’s Kiss in Hershey and sled in Duncannon,

Other area drops include pickle in Dillsburg, button in Carlisle, white rose in York, anchor in Shippensburg, Bucky the Beaver in Beavertown, lightbulb in Sunbury, wrench in Mechanicsburg, kettle in McClure, coal in Shamokin, and duck decoy in Havre de Grace (Maryland).

Other interesting “drops” around the country have vibes of their own – “tasty” with a wedge of key lime pie in Key West, Florida, a doughnut in Hagerstown, Maryland, or a chunk of cheese in Plymouth, Wisconsin; “fishy” with a walleye fish in Port Clinton, Ohio or a carp in Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin.

You could also opt for “fruity” with a bunch of grapes in Temecula, California or watermelon in Vincennes, Indiana; and “downright weird” with a live possum in Brasstown, North Carolina, eight-foot-tall glittering flip flops in Folly Beach, South Carolina or a wooden flea in Eastover, North Carolina.

Philadelphia doesn’t drop anything on New Year’s Eve – even though it has great options like the Liberty Bell, a Rocky statue or a cheesesteak. Instead of dropping something down, Philly sends something up. Every New Year’s Eve, it sends a massive barrage of fireworks into the sky.

When evening arrives in the Philadelphia area on New Year’s Eve, it means that it is time for the Rivers Casino New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront — a gala pyrotechnics display that explodes over the Delaware River.

The Rivers Casino New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the Waterfront features two major pyrotechnics displays over the Delaware River — one at 6 p.m. and another at midnight.

The fireworks can be viewed from either Penn’s Landing on Delaware Avenue or Wiggins Park on the Camden side of the river. Traditionally, the aerial fireworks extravaganza took place at midnight. This year, there will again be a show at midnight and another fireworks display at 6 p.m. on December 31.
Both fireworks displays, which last approximately 15 minutes each, will be launched from a barge in the middle of the Delaware River and will be choreographed to music played through speakers at the Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing and at the riverfront area in Wiggins Park.


A popular New Year’s Eve destination along the Delaware River to watch the fireworks is RiverRink (Market Street and Delaware Avenue, 215-925-RINK, www.riverrink.com).

The rink will host its “Annual New Year’s Eve Party on Ice” not once but twice – from 5-8 p.m. and from 10 p.m.-1 a.m. The festive, non-alcoholic party with food, Mummers, party favors and live entertainment costs $40 for skaters and $30 for spectators.

Another riverside location to watch the show in the sky is the Independence Seaport Museum (211 S. Columbus Boulevard Philadelphia, 215-413-8655, www.phillyseaport.org) which will be open from 5-7 p.m. on New Year’s Eve for the 6 p.m. fireworks.

Guests can observe the fireworks from the second-floor balcony overlooking the river. The event, which features music and a sparkling cider toast at 6 p.m., is included with regular admission – adults, $18; children, $14.

There are New Year’s Eve events in the area that begin long before the evening arrives.

The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia, the Brandywine Zoo in Wilmington, Delaware and the Garden State Discovery Museum in Cherry Hill, N.J. offer special family-oriented matinee events to celebrate the start of a new year.

The Please Touch Museum (Memorial Hall, Fairmount Park, 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, 215-581-3181, www.pleasetouchmuseum.org) will again host its traditional “Countdown to Noon”. Kids can ring in the New Year at noon and at 1 p.m. with confetti and noisemakers.

After the doors open at 9 a.m., youngsters will be able to party with a wide array of storybook characters at Philly’s original “New Year’s Eve Party for Kids.” Additionally, there will be live music performed from 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

To accommodate all its guests, the museum will have a second countdown at 1 p.m. The event will also feature a variety of kids’ activities, dancing and a special appearance by King Countdown, the museum’s official Marshal of the New Year.

Seating for the Countdown in Hamilton Hall is first come, first served. Tickets are $25. Please Touch Museum will close at 3 p.m. following this event.

The event in Wilmington, which is officially called “Noon Year’s Eve Celebration at Brandywine Zoo”, is a popular all-ages celebration that runs from 11 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. at the Brandywine Zoo (1001 North Park Drive, Wilmington, Delaware, 302-571-7747, www.brandywinezoo.org).

The mid-day party features a celebration with games, crafts and a countdown to 12 o’clock as noon approaches. And, there will be a sparkling apple cider toast when the clock strikes 12.
Admission is $5, and the gates open at 10 a.m. with check-in at the main admission gate. Most festivities will take place outdoors, so visitors are advised to dress for winter weather.

The Garden State Discovery Museum (2040 Springdale Road, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, 856-424-1233, www.discoverymuseum.com) is presenting a special program called “New Years at Noon” during the day on December 31.

Guests are invited to be the first to ring in the New Year — kids’ style. The entire Museum will be alive with singing and dancing and counting down to 2015. As an added attraction, the countdown celebrations will be held at noon and again at 3 p.m.

Admission to the Garden State Discovery Museum is $13.95 for adults and children 12 months and over and $12.95 for seniors.

New Year’s Day in Philadelphia is all about the Mummers Parade (215-336-3050, www.phillymummers.com) — a festive celebration featuring string bands, comic units and fancy divisions all strutting their stuff on Broad Street.

The event is celebrating its 121st anniversary this year. The parade is always televised but you need to see it live if you want to really appreciate the sights and sounds of the annual extravaganza.
The Mummers tradition dates back to 400 B.C. and the Roman Festival of Saturnalias when laborers marched in masks throughout the day. Reports of rowdy groups “parading” on New Year’s Day in Philadelphia date back before the revolution.


The practice of awarding prizes was initiated in the late 1800’s and the first “official” event was held in 1901. The Mummers Parade has grown in size and stature and currently features approximately 15,000 participants.

The 2020 Parade will begin at 9 a.m. on PHL17 with the Fancy Division, followed by the Comic Division, Comic Wench Division and then the String Band Division.

The Mummers have a little bit for everyone. There are more than 10,000 Mummers broken up into five divisions — the Fancies, the Comics, the Wench Brigades, the String bands and the Fancy Brigades..
Because it is an outdoor event, inclement weather could come into play. The outdoor parade was postponed in 2003, the first time in 13 years. There have been 22 weather-related postponements since 1922. There was no parade in 1919 due to WW1 and in 1934 due to the depression and the lack of prize money.

When December draws to a close each year, the Kimmel Center (300 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, 215-893-1999, www.kimmelcenter.org) celebrates the holidays with its “Free at the Kimmel Series.”
The highlight of the “Free at the Kimmel” holiday shows will be “New Year’s Day Celebration!” on January 1 from 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Kimmel Center

While the Mummers are strutting down Broad Street, visitors can take a break and ring in the New Year at the Kimmel Center. The event features great parade views, free performances and kids’ activities, nd making marks on the Kimmel Center’s “Resolution Wall.”

Free stage performances will be presented throughout the day.

For a unique way to kick off 2020, head south to Middletown, Delaware on New Year’s Day to celebrate town’s annual Hummers Parade (Main Street, Middletown, Delaware, 302-378-7545).
Every year on New Year’s Day, Middletown’s Hummers Parade slowly but not very methodically moves down Main Street. The parade, which is intended as a spoof of Philadelphia’s Mummers, is a loosely organized event that welcomes everyone to join in the fun.

On January 1, floats and groups will assemble in the parking lot in Middletown. The parade of spoofs is scheduled to get underway at 1 p.m. The parade gathers on South Cass Street in the vicinity of Middletown Environmental Testing, Inc. at 100 South Cass.

The parade travels from South Cass to Park Place, to Broad Street. The parade turns left onto Main Street from Broad and left onto South Scott Street, disbanding in the vicinity of South Cass.

Participants in the parade arrive around noon to put the floats together. The floats should be put together on site and are spoofs of national and local events. All are welcome to join in the parade. The parade is not sponsored by the Town of Middletown or any specific group.

Trophies will be awarded in categories that have yet to be determined. No registration or sign up is required and there are no rules. Actually, there are two basic unwritten rules — taste doesn’t matter, and no-one is permitted to work on a float or a costume any earlier than the morning of the event (and, if they do, they must lie and say they didn’t).

Delaware also has some New Year’s Day events that are more conventional — and definitely more on the healthy side. Delaware State Parks are celebrating the first day of the New Year with hikes in the park.
Parks around Delaware will host a “First State, First Day, First Hike” program to celebrate the national movement sponsored by America’s State Parks to have all 50 states offer First Day Hikes. Designed to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year-round recreation at state parks, all 50 state park systems joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes for the first time in 2012.

A participating state park in Chester County will be Marsh Creek State Park (675 Park Road, Downingtown, 610-458-5119).
Participating parks in northern Delaware that are close to Chester County include Alapocas Run, Auburn Heights, Bellevue State Park, Brandywine Creek State Park and Brandywine Zoo.

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