28
December
2016
|
04:00 PM
America/New_York

Raising the Kiss: New Year’s Eve in Hershey The Sweetest Place On Earth

In the past years it seems like many towns have chosen to host their own family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations. The town of Hershey, PA is preparing to host its 13th annual Downtown Hershey New Year’s Eve celebration, complete with the RAISING of a giant-sized Hershey’s Kiss.

How did this annual celebration begin? One of the founders of the celebration is Mike Pries. I recently communicated with Mike and asked him some questions about how the event began and what it has grown to in year 13.

 

 

Q: How did the Downtown Hershey New Year’s Eve celebration come about?

MP: I had been watching the celebration in Times Square in New York City for many years and I kept talking to people about having a smaller scaled event in Hershey. Folks would respond, “Yeah, why don't we hold our own New Year's Eve event and showcase our town?” So I contacted people from The Hershey Company and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and we met and discussed the idea. Both companies pledged their support and we decided to give the idea a try.

Q: How did you decide to raise a Hershey’s Kiss?

MP: Initially - the idea was to have the Kissing Tower at Hersheypark light up while rising to the top and then have fireworks go off in the background. When that idea was fully explored, it was deemed not viable. The second choice was to raise either a giant Hershey's Bar or a giant Kiss. The Kiss was chosen and a 7 ft., 300 pound replica was built by Stoner Graphics.

Q: Why is the Kiss raised and not dropped?

MP: Other events drop their symbol at midnight, and we felt that raising the Kiss in to the midnight sky would be accentuated by the fireworks lighting up the background and provide a unique sight. It also tied into the original idea of the Kissing Tower rising to the top at midnight.

Q: What year was the very first celebration?

MP: 2005

Q: What was the reaction of people the very first year?

MP: There was an overwhelming sense of support and community pride. In 2005, close to 5,000 people attended the event. The total has grown to average 10,000 revelers per year.

Q: How do you decide who will be the entertainment?

MP: The Entertainment Team at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts uses their contacts to find an up-and-coming musical talent to perform. The most successful New Year's headliner to date has been Ariana Grande who has gone on to superstardom[R2] . This year’s headline entertainer is Jacob Whitesides.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in hosting the event?

MP: The biggest challenge we face each year is the unpredictable weather. The first year we faced freezing rain and the Kiss stopped half way up. The Maintenance Team from Hershey Entertainment & Resorts had to manually pull the kiss up to the top.

Q: What is the biggest reward for you in hosting the event?

MP: I love seeing the crowds of people, young and old, gather throughout the evening, and I love watching the looks on their faces as the fireworks are launched. A committee of Hershey residents works throughout the year to plan the evening, and I love seeing their satisfaction for a job well done.

Q: How has the event changed over the years?

MP: The Downtown Hershey New Year’s Eve celebration has grown from an idea to become one of the most popular New Year’s Eve event in Central PA[R3] . We’ve even received national media coverage! One thing that has not changed is that this event is FREE.

For more information please visit this website: http://www.hersheynewyears.org/

T

In the past years it seems like many towns have chosen to host their own family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebrations. The town of Hershey, PA is preparing to host its 13th annual Downtown Hershey New Year’s Eve celebration, complete with the RAISING of a giant-sized Hershey’s Kiss.

How did this annual celebration begin? One of the founders of the celebration is Mike Pries[R1] . I recently communicated with Mike and asked him some questions about how the event began and what it has grown to in year 13.

Q: How did the Downtown Hershey New Year’s Eve celebration come about?

MP: I had been watching the celebration in Times Square in New York City for many years and I kept talking to people about having a smaller scaled event in Hershey. Folks would respond, “Yeah, why don't we hold our own New Year's Eve event and showcase our town?” So I contacted people from The Hershey Company and Hershey Entertainment & Resorts and we met and discussed the idea. Both companies pledged their support and we decided to give the idea a try.

Q: How did you decide to raise a Hershey’s Kiss?

MP: Initially - the idea was to have the Kissing Tower at Hersheypark light up while rising to the top and then have fireworks go off in the background. When that idea was fully explored, it was deemed not viable. The second choice was to raise either a giant Hershey's Bar or a giant Kiss. The Kiss was chosen and a 7 ft., 300 pound replica was built by Stoner Graphics.

Q: Why is the Kiss raised and not dropped?

MP: Other events drop their symbol at midnight, and we felt that raising the Kiss in to the midnight sky would be accentuated by the fireworks lighting up the background and provide a unique sight. It also tied into the original idea of the Kissing Tower rising to the top at midnight.

Q: What year was the very first celebration?

MP: 2005

Q: What was the reaction of people the very first year?

MP: There was an overwhelming sense of support and community pride. In 2005, close to 5,000 people attended the event. The total has grown to average 10,000 revelers per year.

Q: How do you decide who will be the entertainment?

MP: The Entertainment Team at Hershey Entertainment & Resorts uses their contacts to find an up-and-coming musical talent to perform. The most successful New Year's headliner to date has been Ariana Grande who has gone on to superstardom. This year’s headline entertainer is Jacob Whitesides.

Q: What is the biggest challenge in hosting the event?

MP: The biggest challenge we face each year is the unpredictable weather. The first year we faced freezing rain and the Kiss stopped half way up. The Maintenance Team from Hershey Entertainment & Resorts had to manually pull the kiss up to the top.

Q: What is the biggest reward for you in hosting the event?

MP: I love seeing the crowds of people, young and old, gather throughout the evening, and I love watching the looks on their faces as the fireworks are launched. A committee of Hershey residents works throughout the year to plan the evening, and I love seeing their satisfaction for a job well done.

Q: How has the event changed over the years?

MP: The Downtown Hershey New Year’s Eve celebration has grown from an idea to become one of the most popular New Year’s Eve event in Central PA. We’ve even received national media coverage! One thing that has not changed is that this event is FREE.

For more information please visit this website: http://www.hersheynewyears.org/

Contact
Kathy Burrows
Hersheypark, ZooAmerica
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