MOBILE – The countdown to the New Year has brought some very unusual midnight drops. Best known, of course, is the huge ball in New York City’s Times Square.
But there’s also the walleye fish drop in Port Clinton, Ohio; 35-foot orange in Miami, gigantic peach in Atlanta; possum in Tallapoosa, Georgia; sardine in Eastport, Maine; cherry in Traverse City , Michigan; 18-foot watermelon in Vincennes, Indiana. And the MoonPie in Mobile, Alabama.
MoonPie? Yep, a 12-foot-tall, 350-pound electronic MoonPie will descend from the 34-story RSA BankTrust sky rise in downtown Mobile. The drop will welcome 2012 and the beginning of Mardi Gras season.
A tradition since 2008, MoonPie Over Mobile gives locals and visitors a chance to celebrate New Year’s Eve with a bit of Mardi Gras flavor. This year’s headliners for the free Mobile concert leading up to the MoonPie drop is legendary music group Three Dog Night of “Joy to the World” fame.
“Downtown Mobile is going to be the place to be this New Year’s Eve,” said Mobile Mayor Sam Jones. “Last year we had more than 40,000 people attend MoonPie Over Mobile and we hope to make it even larger this year.”
The free celebration will start with a New Year’s Eve parade at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 31, followed by an opening ceremony and entertainment at the corner of Government Boulevard and Royal Street.
The Three Dog Night concert will kick off at 11 p.m. and the MoonPie will start its drop at 11:59 p.m. The MoonPie will drop 317 feet in 60 seconds, accompanied by a laser and fireworks show.
“Mobile’s New Year’s Eve Celebration featuring the MoonPie Over Mobile has become a cultural phenomenon in the entire USA,” said Mobile City Councilman Fred Richardson who is credited with the MoonPie concept. “I look forward to this New Year’s Eve being the best that has ever been in our city.”
So why was the Southern treat of a gooey marshmallow cookie chosen for the annual New Year’s Eve drop? MoonPies are a popular treat thrown from Mardi Gras floats and Mobile is the home of America’s first Mardi Gras celebration. MoonPies were first thrown from Mardi Gras floats in 1952. Mobilians consumes more than 4 million MoonPies annually.
Maris Gras was first discovered in the New World in 1703 at Twenty-Seven Mile Bluff, the first settlement in Mobile. The first masked parading society, the Cowbellion de Rakin Society was formed in Mobile in 1830.
Mobile now has more than 50 parading and non-parading organizations for Mardi Gras. An estimated 850,000 people attend parades, parties and other organizations associated with the carnival festivities.
For more information, visit www.mobilenewyear.com or www.mobile.org.