It was Abby's idea to go to Mt. Olive and witness the annual Pickle Drop. I couldn't think of a better way to ring in the new year, so I tagged along, and we found ourselves driving out into the open countryside on a dark foggy night, to see what we could see. It was supposed to have been a full moon, a blue moon at that, but it was so misty and foggy that we could see nothing but a few well-lit farmhouses here and there. Mt. Olive is a tiny Southern town, about an hour southeast of Raleigh, that you could altogether miss if you weren't paying attention, but the pickle company, well known nationwide, is it's claim to fame. We arrived in Mt. Olive around 6 pm, and found the pickle factory easily, located at the corner of Cucumber and Vine. A small crowd was in the process of becoming medium-sized, and families milled around enjoying the festivities. There was live music by a band of old-timers, a gift shop overflowing with amazing merchandise like pickle earrings, T-shirts, and scratch-n-sniff stickers, and best of all there were free pickles, chocolate chip cookies, and hot chocolate. Then there was Mr. Crisp, a guy in a huge pickle costume, walking around, giving people thumbs up and posing for pictures. Meanwhile, a large bright green glowing pickle lingered up above us, at the top of the flagpole, and an electronic sign counted down the seconds.
The pickle drops at 7 pm, Greenwich Mean Time midnight, because in a small town folks like to get to bed at a decent hour, so at about 6:45 the spokesman for the pickle company got up on raised platform with a loudspeaker and began announcing a few door prizes, and people excitedly claimed their pickle-paks and green umbrellas. Then he read a history of the pickle-dropping celebration, with its ties to World War II bomber pilots who claimed their aim was so good they could drop a bomb into a pickle barrel down below. Suddenly, with 20 seconds to "midnight," the pickle began its descent, and the audience went from hushed to fervently counting down the seconds in unison. At the bottom of the flagpole, the pickle disappeared into a giant bucket, eliciting a compulsory splash of water, and a cheer rose up. Everyone shouted Happy New Year and blew their whistles and waved little party pom poms, and then a local doctor played Auld Lang Syne on his bagpipe while we all sang along. Then, in place of the pickle, the American flag was raised against the black misty sky, and everyone sang God Bless America.
I can't imagine a better New Year's celebration, and it was capped by my friends and I with a delicious barbecue dinner on the way home, at Smithfield's. Back on the road again, the rain that had been threatening all night finally came down, and as we drove home we felt lucky, blessed, and completely picklicious. Happy New Year!!!!!!