10 Unique New Year Eve Tradition’s in Central Pennsylvania

Across Central Pennsylvania, towns and cities of all sizes ring in the New Year with quite a variety of celebrations that include a twist on the traditional ball drop. From food items like pickles and bologna to roses and wrenches, each item has its own connection to the city in which it is dropped (or in some cases, raised). Let’s take a look at 10 of these creative New Year’s Eve celebrations that take place across Central Pennsylvania and the meaning behind them!


Dillsburg – Pickle Drop

Of course a town named Dillsburg would choose to drop a pickle! The idea is as delicious as it is fun. The full evening of celebration includes vendors, children’s activities, Irish clog dancers, magic show, balloon artist and wintery refreshments. Especially for the children who may not stay up late enough to see the official pickle drop at midnight, a “baby pickle drop” takes place at 7 p.m. The big pickle drop is followed by a grand finale of fireworks!


Carlisle – First Night Button

What was once a car drop for the town of “car”lisle, has since been changed to the raising of a button (as of 2013). A large replica of the buttons used for admission to the night’s festivities is raised instead of dropped because the community wanted to raise their spirits for the New Year. What does the button look like? The design changes from year to year! Children can enter a drawing using the year’s theme, and the winning drawing is used on the buttons for admission as well as for the large button that is raised 21 feet in the air at midnight.

Lower Allen Township – Lowering of the Yellow Breeches

Upper and Lower Allen Townships are known for their prime location next to the Yellow Breeches, so it’s only fitting that their New Year’s Eve celebration would involve a nod to this local attraction. The township’s celebration involves a variety of games, activities and refreshments for families and takes place at the Barn in Lower Allen Township Park. At midnight, a pair of five-foot-tall “yellow breeches” are lowered by children attendees.

Mechanicsburg – Wrench Drop

The name does most of the explaining! Mechanicsburg drops a large, lighted wrench in the middle of downtown with many activities taking place throughout the evening.

Harrisburg – Strawberry Drop

Market Square in downtown Harrisburg is most recognized by the building known as “Strawberry Square.” This location is home to offices and retail space and also connects to the Hilton Hotel. Because Strawberry Square is such a central point in downtown Harrisburg, it’s fitting that they choose to drop a strawberry at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. The full celebration includes music, theatrical performances and children’s activities, plus a ton of activity on restaurant row.

Hershey – Raising of the Hershey’s Kiss

What else would the town made famous by chocolate raise on New Year’s Eve other than its signature Hershey Kiss? What’s great about Hershey’s celebration is that it is extremely family friendly with activities beginning as early at 11am that day. Music, games and refreshments make it an enjoyable event for attendees of all ages.

Lebanon – Bologna Drop

Lebanon, a town very well known for its delicious Dutch treat, Bologna, chooses to drop a 12 foot, 250 pound replica on New Year’s Eve. What a sight to see! This fun and amusing celebration is a great way to ring in the New Year. Be sure to come hungry and enjoy the many different treats Lebanon has to offer its guests.

Highspire – Candy Drop

The New Year’s Eve candy drop in Highspire is not only fun, there’s a special meaning behind it too! At midnight, a variety of small candies are dropped from a Knight’s Candy bin and children dash to collect their share. The candy drop is in commemoration of the Knights Candy Store that operated there during the 1950s to 1970s. Counting down to the candy bin tipping over and spilling out candy is exciting for guests of all ages.

York – White Rose Drop

In the town square, the city of York drops a white rose at midnight followed by a large fireworks display. Why the white rose? This symbolizes the War of Roses which were a series of wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival branches of the royal House of Plantagenet. The House of York’s symbol was a white rose.

Lancaster – Lowering of the Red Rose

Similarly to York’s NYE celebration, Lancaster lowers a red rose to symbolize the House of Lancaster which was associated with a red rose throughout the War of Roses. This is such an interesting piece of our history here in Central Pennsylvania (which you can learn more about here). It’s a great tradition that each town honors its heritage, and looks to the future, by celebrating with a special rose to ring in the New Year!

Do you have another unique New Year’s Eve celebration to share? Leave us a comment!