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With New Year’s Eve approaching rapidly, many of us turn our thoughts to champagne, noisemakers, and singing “Auld Lang Syne” off-key with friends and loved ones. Traditions abound this time of year, and New Year’s Eve is no different from Christmas in that respect.  For many of us, New Year’s Eve just isn’t the same without one thing.

The eternal teenager himself, Dick Clark.

The man was a part of the Times Square celebration as important as that big shining ball of crystal and light that drops every year.  But, as I look around these days I see that the tradition of dropping the ball in Times Square has spread across the countryside and taken root in towns big and small across America.  Just about everywhere these days you find towns raising or dropping something significant on New Year’s Eve, and these items have much more story in them than the simple ball in New York.

Here’s just a sampling of the items being used to bring in the New Year just around me in Central Pennsylvania:

  • Harrisburg uses a Strawberry (the area in which the celebration is held, across from the state capitol is called (Strawberry Square)
  • Lancaster (the Red Rose city) and York (the White Rose city) both use roses of the appropriate color (hearkening back to the War of the Roses between York and Lancaster in England)
  • Lebanon uses a bologna (Lebanon Bologna is a local delicacy)
  • Hershey uses a Hershey Kiss
  • Hummelstown uses a lollipop (there was once a lollipop factory in the town)
  • Elizabethtown uses an M&M (the factory is nearby)
  • Dillsburg uses a pickle (do I need to explain that one?)

And that is just a sampling.  It’s amazing how the tradition has spread through even small towns in America.  Dick Clark may not be Rockin’ in the New Year anymore, but the standard he set for us certainly seems to be living on.  So, while you’re drinking a toast to the New Year and singing off-key, remember that it all started with Dick Clark.

The ball may have been dropped in Times Square before him, and may continue to be dropped without him, but he made it an institution that spread a tradition throughout the country.


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