Thousands cheer the falling fungus on New Year’s Eve

The giant, lighted mushroom descends onto a corral in the middle of Kennett Square at midnight New Year’s Eve, surrounded by thousands of holiday revelers.
The giant, lighted mushroom descends onto a corral in the middle of Kennett Square at midnight New Year’s Eve, surrounded by thousands of holiday revelers. Chris Barber — 21st Century Media
FRAN MAYE - The Kennett PaperFred McCarthy kisses Jackie Hopkins after he proposed at the third annual Mushroom Drop in Kennett Square.
FRAN MAYE - The Kennett PaperFred McCarthy kisses Jackie Hopkins after he proposed at the third annual Mushroom Drop in Kennett Square.

Kennett Square >> Just when it seemed the annual New Year’s Mushroom Drop couldn’t get any bigger, they added a beer tent and light show, which seemed to please the visitors greatly. Those additions, combined with agreeable weather, attracted hordes of revelers, who filled the streets of uptown Kennett Square from Broad to Center and all over State on Thursday night.

Throughout the evening the numbers grew to several thousand, as visitors rocked to the music of the Funsters and stopped by at bars and restaurants to feed their thirst and hunger.

Jackie Hopkins got the surprise of her life at the Mushroom Drop when, about an hour before midnight, Fred McCarthy proposed to her under the giant, 600-pound stainless steel mushroom. She said yes, put a diamond ring on her finger, and McCarthy proceeded to grab a guitar and sing a song for her. The crowd went wild.

The weather was perfect for the event -- about 40 degrees with no wind. Kids bought glow sticks, watched the light shows and — for many who couldn’t stay up to that late — got to see the 8 p.m. lift and lighting of the mushroom. The band “The Funsters” entertained the crowd from 10 p.m. until midnight.

Advertisement

As the hour grew close to midnight, the density of humans increased at State and Union streets, where the mushroom hung high above the crowd, having been hoisted there by Bob’s Crane, proiperty of a local heavy machine operator who can lift almost any heavy object into the air.

As the mushroom descended in the last minute, most of the people there counted down from 10, and when zero arrived they broke into a verse of “Auld Lang Syne.”

But that was not the end of the evening. The bars, stores and eateries remained open until 2 a.m., even though the lion’s share of guests had departed after the countdown. Many of the restaurants, including the Half Moon, Kennett Inn, LaVerona and the Market at Liberty Place, were packed well past midnight.

The idea of mimicking New York City’s celebration of the lighted ball on Times Square came three years ago from State Rep. John Lawrence, who suggested it to Mushroom Cap store proprietor Kathi Lafferty. She was agreeable to taking up the challenge, and the rest is history.

As the event drew close its start in the early Thursday evening, Lafferty said things had been going well for her and her small committee. The only slight glitch was that some of the lights in the giant mushroom had gone out and had to be replaced just the day before. But everything was orderly, police reported no problems, and the public works department had streets back to normal a few hours after the event.

When the New Year arrived, it appeared that most visitors were in high spirits, and there had not been any major mishaps.

The Kennett Square Mushroom Drop is one of several growing New Year’s Eve events across the nation. In Tucson, Ariz. there’s a 15-foot taco that is dropped, in Atlanta, Ga., an 800-pound peach is dropped, in Raleigh, N.C., a huge acorn is lowered down a pole, and in Bethlehem, Pa., a fiberglass peep is dropped from a crane.

About the Authors

Chris Barber

Chris Barber is the editor of the Avon Grove Sun. She was previously southern bureau chief of the Daily Local News and editor of the Kennett Paper, earning honors in writing and photography. Reach the author at agsun@kennettpaper.com .

Fran Maye

Fran Maye is an award-winning journalist and a graduate of Shippensburg University. He and his wife Marianne live in East Marlborough. He enjoys golf and is a 4.0 tennis player. Reach the author at kennettpaper@gmail.com or follow Fran on Twitter: @kennettpaper.