The first mushroom drop for New Year’s Eve went successfully as an 800-pound stainless steel mushroom with hundreds of lights dropped 80 feet from a crane as thousands of people watched.
“There was a great turnout, and it was a lot of fun,” said Doug Stirling, a member of the Kennett Consolidated School Board who attended the event. “There was good music, nobody had a bad attitude, and there wasn’t much pushing and shoving. I hope this is a new tradition in Kennett Square.”
Though temperatures were in the upper 20s, there was no wind and it was comfortable for many, especially with people crammed so tight.
Restaurants on State Street, especially the Kennett Inn, Enzo’s, LaVerona and the Market at Liberty Place, saw brisk business. Close to midnight, lines were so long they spilled out into the streets.
“The only thing I would change next year is to make it more of a definitive countdown,” Stirling said. “I was two rows from the mushroom and it was hard to hear a countdown.”
“This town is alive, isn’t it?” said Bob Bilttersdorf of Kennett Square, as he jockeyed to get a better view of the mushroom shortly before midnight. “The weather is beautiful, everybody worked together, and I love it.”
Police Chief Ed Zunino reported no problems despite the large number of people gathered in a cramped area around State and Union streets.
“There are no problems and everyone’s just having a good time,” said Mayor Matt Fetick. “I’m seeing a lot of families, little kids, kids in strollers, and that’s good.”
Midnight in the Square, as it was called, was dubbed a family event, and it turned out to be just that. Some of the younger children fell asleep on their parents’ shoulders shortly before the mushroom fell, but everyone seemed to enjoy the excitement.
“This is good for the town,” said Bert Bertrando, who kept Sam’s Sub Shop open throughout the event, and even after the steel fungus fell. “The uptown was hopping, the music was great and all the restaurants were booked up. It was worth our time to stay open.”
The 10-piece band “The Funsters” entertained the crowd for about three hours with rock hits mainly from the ‘70s and ‘80s. When they played Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” about 10 minutes before midnight, many in the crowd sang along.
Even parking went without a hitch. Many parked at the Kennett High School parking lot, or the Genesis Building. Bus shuttle service was offered from nearby Exelon Corp.
Many brought nonperishable food items for the Kennett Food Cupboard, which had a truck parked at State and Broad streets. The Mushroom Drop Food Drive brought in 3,128 pounds of food! Several food trucks saw brisk business before and after the drop.
The $6,000 stainless steel mushroom was donated by To-Jo Mushrooms Inc. in Kennett Square, and Bob’s Crane Co. of Kennett Square donated the crane. The event was funded by the Kennett Area Restaurant and Merchants Association (KARMA), in conjunction with the Mushroom Festival, which had been soliciting donations for the past several weeks to pay for things like police and public works department service.
Kathi Lafferty did much of the legwork in organizing the mushroom drop. The event did not cost Kennett Square taxpayers anything.
This newspaper’s social media sites were buzzing with comments from people shortly after photos were posted at 1 a.m. Wednesday.
“Kennett Square certainly has changed since I lived there,” said Lisa Campbell. Great job to the organizers of this event.”
“A little more intimate than Times Square, and probably a lot more fun,” said Beverly West.”
Said Tami Warfel Bailey: “It was such a good time. I was very impressed at the family atmosphere. I had five kids with me ages 11 to 17 and they had as much fun dancing and singing in the streets as the adults did. Best New Year’s in a long time! Well done Kennett Square.”
“Great band, happy crowd and cold,” said Phyllis Recca. Glad we made the first mushroom drop.”
Though it is unique, Kennett Square is not the only town in Pennsylvania to have a drop on New Year’s Eve. There is also Beaverton’s beaver drop, the strawberry drop in Easton, the pickle drop in Dillsburg, the bottle of Yuengling drop in Pottsville, the marshmallow peep drop in Bethlehem, the Dove bar drop in Elizabethtown, the 100-pound bologna drop in Lebanon, the Crayola crayon drop in Easton and the recycled material drop in Pittsburgh.