- Avery Newmark For the AJC
The news began circulating recently that the time-honored New Year's Eve tradition in Atlanta −watching a giant Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta as the clock ticks to midnight− is moving to a new home in Woodruff Park.
First introduced in 1989, The Peach Drop has always been an all-day party with food, music and the Times Square-style dropping of a giant peach. The event attracts about 100,000 people annually to the festivities at Underground Atlanta.
But with the sale of Underground Atlanta to a South Carolina real estate firm earlier this year, and the coming of a $300 million revamp at Underground Atlanta, the forever home of the Peach Drop has ushered in a new home for the beloved NYE destination. Officials confirmed that the Peach Drop will move a few blocks away from Underground to Woodruff Park.
As the 28-year tradition changes, we look back at a few Peach Drop memories we will always hold dear and never forget from New Year’s past.
The Peach is everything.
Before it ever takes a ten-second tumble, the Peach gets a makeover. It is painted and refurbished each year. And that's no easy job, because the Peach is heavy. It weighs in at more than 800 pounds − almost as much as an average adult horse. The monstrous peach is roughly 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide. The Peach is made of fiberglass and foam and once the countdown begins, it takes about 58 seconds to descend the 138 foot tower of lights to its resting place at the bottom. We just count for the last ten.
Remember that year a giant M&M was attached to the tower.
As Underground Atlanta prepared for the 25th Annual Peach Drop (in 2014), a mysterious giant yellow M&M appeared on the Peach tower. It turned out to be a marketing campaign of Mars Chocolate North America for, "Year of Peanut". Michelle Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Underground Atlanta. explained that The company originally proposed replacing the Peach Drop with the M&M peanut candy, but Lawrence explained why that was a no-go. "It’s important that we maintain the integrity and tradition of the Peach Drop.”
There was a bit of outcry over the marketing move, with social media panning the decision as a desecration of the Peach Drop’s purity.
The musical lineup has had many memorable years.
The first headline act to perform - back when the Peach first dropped in 1989 - was the Robert Ray Orchestra. Since then an array of talented musical headliners have hit the stage, including Lonestar (2007), Miranda Lambert (2008), Julianne Hough (2009), Tito Jackson (2011), Kansas (2012), Abbey Road LIVE! (2013), Sugar Ray (2015), Ludacris (2015), Collective Soul (2017) and many others.
Ginormous crowds, especially the one in 2009.
The Peach Drop celebration was a huge attraction for Underground Atlanta. It brought in people from all over the world and country to witness its descend into the New Year, year after year. In 2013, a crowd of more than 100,000 was expected to watch the annual Peach Drop. And in 2009, a crowd between 100,000 - 170,000 people.
The Peach's last year at Underground Atlanta. (Tearing up) .
As 2017 neared, the Peach's location in Underground Atlanta came to an end. For 28 years the city had hosted an all-day party on Dec. 31, featuring food, music, confetti, fireworks and the ceremonial lowering of the 800-pound Peach from a tower above Underground. People continued to celebrate with the Peach despite the fact it was its last year, some sad and some hopeful. A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress, noted "It's a great opportunity for us to rethink where a New Year's Eve celebration should be. It may return in a different format and a different place, but I'm confident the community will rise to the occasion and come up with a good solution."