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Acorn drop signals beginning of 2009

Posted December 31, 2008
Updated October 12, 2011

— Despite windy conditions and cold temperatures, thousands of revelers descended upon downtown Wednesday for the First Night Raleigh 2009 celebration.

Temperatures dropped to below freezing around 11 p.m. and winds calmed, WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel said. Earlier in the day wind gusts reached 39 at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

Spectators bundled up for the festivities, which began at 2 p.m. with the children's celebration at the North Carolina Museums of History and Natural Sciences and outside on Bicentennial Plaza. The event was followed by the people's procession – a parade around the state Capitol grounds.

“There’s so much fun and so much entertainment,” procession volunteer Kimberly Holloway said.

The parade, which went down Fayetteville Street, featured bagpipes and the Helping Hand Mission Marching Band. This year's theme was the "Chinese New Year."

The people's procession kicks off festivities The people's procession kicks off festivities

In addition to parade, children enjoyed face painting and coloring.

John Brown and the Groove Shop Band entertained the crowd leading up to the early 7 p.m. New Year's countdown. Fireworks were also set off.

Acorn drops early for youngsters Acorn drops early for youngsters

Evening entertainment featured music, comedy, dance and theater in two dozen downtown locations. The Acorn dropped at midnight, followed by fireworks.

Many revelers moved with the music in an effort to stay warm.

“It’s freezing cold and the only way to stay warm tonight is dancing,” said Tracy Russell, who was visiting the area from Florida.

Some professional dancers taught ballroom, country western and swing dancing at the Sir Walter Apartments Ballroom.

First Night revelers dance to stay warm First Night revelers dance to stay warm

Fans of the popular "Guitar Hero" video game got a chance to face-off against Blake Peebles, a local teen who has received national attention for his skill at the game.

Others took in the music. Shaun Jay performed as a magician at the event last year. He returned this year a spectator.

“We just wanted to support the event, visit some friend and enjoy the new year,” Jay said.

Many people sipped on warm beverages, including coffee and hot cider, as they waited for the giant Acorn to drop on Fayetteville Street.

“It’s way too cold to be drinking champagne tonight,” reveler Randal Roberge said.

“It’s different from our ball in New York in Times Square, but it’s nice. It’s a change,” said Olivia Harris, who was visiting the area from New York.

  Acorn drops Dec. 31, 2008 Raleigh's Acorn drop ends 2008

Other celebrations

Across the state, other celebrations rang in the New Year.

Mount Olive had a pickle drop, which featured a 3-foot lighted pickle replica lowered down the flagpole of Mt. Olive Pickle Co. for the 10th year.

Mount Olive holds pickle drop Mount Olive holds pickle drop

“It’s just a hoot. Last year we had about 2,000 people here and this is a place of less than 5,000 – so that’s a pretty good turnout,” Mount Olive Pickle Company Community Relations representative Lynn Williams said.

In Brasstown, citizens watched a possum drop. Clay Logan said he will sponsor the 14th annual possum drop at his store in the community of Brasstown near the North Carolina-Georgia border. He said the live animal, in a cage, is gently lowered from his country store's roof.

Southern Pines has its ball drop at 8:15 p.m. as part of its First Eve event, which features family-oriented activities and entertainment on Broad Street.

Wake Forest rang in the New Year with the inaugural First Light Wake Forest.

Fayetteville hosted a charity President's Black & White Ball at the Metropolitan Room on Green Street as part of its festivities. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Rape Crisis Center. There was also a midnight breakfast buffet and champagne toast.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • any1butcarolina0405 Jan 1, 2009

    Every year I try to watch the ball drop in times square and WTVD always squishes the screen and I have to watch some lame acorn instead AND the ball in Times Square. Hello WTVD if I wanted to watch the acorn I would have been watching WRAL.

  • superman Jan 1, 2009

    Seems the writer of the article neglected to say if the 50,000 people showed up! Funny how a professional writer can forget to include facts in a story.

  • billy Jan 1, 2009


  • odiesnitch Dec 31, 2008

    Shouldn't this actually be called "last night" or "First morning?"

  • tmedlin Dec 31, 2008

    glad to hear it micah, I'm planning to go to 42nd Street

  • micah Dec 31, 2008

    There are PLENTY of parking spaces downtown, especially in the decks. All of the city decks are centrally located, and FREE after 5pm. If you really just don't want to come downtown that is fine, but lack of parking is a really poor excuse (since it just isn't true!)

  • WRAL is joe_dirt Dec 31, 2008

    Acorn. Like a buckeye, just another worthless nut.

  • FullOfId Dec 31, 2008

    foetine & jerry - haha! You two are cracking me up!!! Jerry's right though - cold weather does not cause colds & flus - viruses do. I wish my mom-in-law could realize this too! And I personally wear a coat because it's cold out.

    I don't see the point in watching a giant nut fall from the sky outside in the cold. I'd rather gather with friends and family and ring in the new year from the comforts of someone's warm home!

    Happy New Year everyone!

  • batteringram69 Dec 31, 2008

    I've never been to first night, but from what I gather, there really isn't much to do there. Just walking down the street for a people's procession? There just doesn't seem to be enough events to keep the interest. And frankly, I really don't care to stand outside in the freezing cold with 10,000 (not 50,000) people who I don't know and will never see again.

  • Jeremiah Dec 31, 2008

    foetine, i'm not trying to argue with you, it's just a medical fact. cold weather does not cause colds or flus.

    i think the main reason we wear coats is because its cold, and staying warm is comfortable. also, if its cold enough, there is the risk of frostbite and hypothermia. i also imagine all the shivering could really wear your body down.