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New Year's Eve Watermelon Drop In Vincennes To Be Biggest Ever
Updated December 28, 2015 8:50 AM | Filed under: Event
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(VINCENNES) - With the addition of an internationally acclaimed Night Time Air Show, the 8th Annual New Year's Eve Watermelon Drop in Vincennes will be the biggest one in the event's storied history, with activities planned from late afternoon on December 31 through early January 1.

It will also be Indiana's FIRST 2016 Bicentennial event--since it takes place in the very first second of the Bicentennial year, which organizers say is appropriate since Vincennes is Indiana's first city, founded in 1732.

The wildly wacky Watermelon Drop will feature the introduction of a Night Time Air Show, featuring 10+ airplanes over the Wabash River, compliments of Team AeroDynamix, and sponsored by the National Watermelon Association. With pilots coming from the southeastern U.S., this internationally recognized air show team will perform an exciting routine of precision formation with more airplanes in the aerobatic box at one time than any other air show team in the world.

The evening will also feature music by the band Hot Rod Lincoln, prior to the traditional fireworks and 16 watermelons dropping to a "splatform" at midnight. It is an event that continues to grow, attracting national and international attention since it began in 2008. Two years ago, the Watermelon Drop attracted CNN's live coverage during its New Year's Eve show with an audience of more than 2 million viewers.

This year there will be seven food vendors throughout the evening--including Evansville's Revolution Pizza served from a double-decker Bus--drinks of all varieties, stage entertainment, and additional entertainment in festival tents.

"We are delighted that the Watermelon Drop will be the first 2016 official legacy event of Indiana's Bicentennial celebration. It's only fitting that the place where Indiana history started will be the kickoff to this exciting year of statewide celebration," said Mark Hill, chair of the Knox County Bicentennial Committee.

Hill noted that the festival's site is historic, surrounded by the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, Lincoln Memorial Bridge, Indiana's First Main Street, and Indiana's legendary Wabash River--all key features of Indiana's history.

Since the Watermelon Drop began, it has attracted major attention for Vincennes and Indiana's role in national watermelon production. In fact, last year Smithsonian magazine choose a photo of Vincennes' Watermelon Drop to illustrate its feature story, "From Possums to 200 Pounds of Bologna: Weird Things Cities Drop on New Year's Eve."

The article noted that "crystal balls aren't the only things used to mark the New Year--in many places across the United States, cities drop objects that reflect local flavor and culture," such as watermelons.

In August, the Watermelon Drop was also one of only two U.S. festivals listed by the British publication, The Guardian, in its list of the world's "best small festivals," as recommended by its readers. Joining the Watermelon Drop were festivals from Germany, Ireland, Italy, France, Switzerland, Vietnam, and Ithaca, New York. The article, which featured a photo of Vincennes' giant watermelon, also mentioned the community's summer Watermelon Festival.

Past Watermelon Drops have been featured on the CBS Sunday Morning Show and Country Living's "7 Wacky Ways to Ring in the New Year." The editors of the world's largest travel site, TripAdvisor, Inc., listed the event among its 2011 "Top Ten Quirkiest New Year's Eve Celebrations in America"--a list that also included North Carolina's Possum Drop and Alabama's Moon Pie Drop.

"Where else but Vincennes can you watch a 500-pound watermelon rise high in the sky as midnight approaches, culminating in 16 Knox County watermelons dropped on our "splatform" at the stroke of midnight--including fireworks? Add to that the night time air show and there really is no better way to ring in the New Year," said Rick Linenburg, one of the founding members of the National Watermelon Drop Committee.

Linenburg said the committee is also proud that the Watermelon Drop was selected the #1 Festival in the Vincennes Sun-Commercial's 2015 Reader's Choice Awards, as well as among the top two community events. He said the awards reflect the community's growing pride in the event as well as the watermelons that Knox County has become known for.

Entertaining the crowd leading to the midnight countdown will be Master Chef Joseph Poon, who has been featured on many TV shows, such as "Late Night" and "Ellen DeGeneres Show," where he has demonstrated the phenomenal watermelon carving skills that he will bring to Vincennes.

"We are delighted to welcome back, by popular demand, Chef Poon. We thank the National Watermelon Promotion Board for sponsoring his fascinating performance," Linenburg said.

Other attractions this year include National Watermelon Queen Emily Brown and Illiana Watermelon Queen Lindsey Hampton, music, food and merchandise vendors, a wine and beer garden, and the 2015 American computer-animated family comedy film, "Minions II," shown in our heated movie tent.

Since its creation in 2008, the 18-foot watermelon has become a star attraction in Vincennes, including being featured in the town's July 4th and Christmas parades, as well as its summer Watermelon Festival. People also enjoy sharing photographs and videos of themselves standing next to the 18-foot-long watermelon throughout the evening on New Year's Eve.

The Watermelon Festival has come a long way since a few friends gathered at a small New Year's party at a Vincennes home and asked themselves the question, "Why don't we drop something in town to celebrate the New Year?"

"It is incredible that this year, thanks to the generosity of many sponsors and donors, our budget for the celebration is in the neighborhood of $90,000, and it still is an all-volunteer organization that brings together the creativity and can-do spirit of the community that we love," Linenburg

Tent space is available for private family, company, or organization's New Year's Eve parties. For more information about reserving tent space, contact the Vincennes/Knox County Visitors and Tourism Bureau at 812-886-0400.

Calling the Watermelon Drop an "inspirational start to the New Year," Linenburg said the Poet Laureate of Vincennes sums up the anticipation of the growing number of fans of the event in this parody poem:

"'Twas the night before New Year's, when all through the town, all the people were stirring and riverfront bound. The watermelons were shined and stacked with care, in hopes to be selected for a launch through the air. The revelers in Vincennes were all snug and well fed, while visions of smashing watermelons danced in their head."

Why is the Watermelon Drop in Vincennes?

According to the Illiana Watermelon Association, one of the sponsors of the Watermelon Drop, the credit for the wide popularity of Knox County's great-tasting watermelons is ideal soil deposited by the great glaciers of the Ice-Age. The result is thousands of acres of melon fields in and around Knox County that produce over 7,000 semi truckloads of watermelons every summer. As the county seat of Knox County, Vincennes is proud to features locally grown watermelons for its New Year's Eve celebration.

NEW YEAR'S EVE WATERMELON DROP SCHEDULE:

  • 5 p.m. - Food vendors open
  • 5:40 p.m. - Presentation of Colors
  • 5:45 p.m. - National Anthem
  • 5:48 p.m. - Firing of State Rifle
  • 5:55 p.m. - Night Time Air Show
  • 6:45 p.m. - Movie "Minions II" begins in Movie Tent
  • 6:45 p.m. - Chef Poon begins carving watermelons in Chef Poon Tent
  • 7 p.m. - On-Stage re-enactment of beginning of Indiana Statehood
  • 7:45 p.m. - Color Guard
  • 7:52 p.m. - Cadets lead Pledge of Allegiance
  • 8 p.m. - Reading of winning entry in Essay Contest
  • 8:10 p.m. - Riley Elementary Third Grade sings "Back Home Again in Indiana"
  • 8:15 p.m. - Clark Middle School Bell Ensemble performance
  • 8:35 p.m. - Princeton Theater group presentation
  • 9 p.m. - Band "Hot Rod Lincoln" plays until countdown
  • 11:58 p.m. - Giant Watermelon raised high in the sky
  • 12:01 a.m. - 16 watermelons fall to the "splatform", fireworks, "Auld Lang Syne" and Indiana's 2016 Bicentennial Year begins


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