The history of Lebanon’s Bologna Drop

3 min read319 views and 68 shares Posted December 16, 2019

As the end of December approaches, we draw closer to Lebanon’s annual tradition for celebrating the New Year: The Bologna Drop.

Since the turn from 1997 to 1998, Lebanon has held a New Year’s Bologna Drop each year, dropping a giant version of the regional delicacy as midnight strikes.

This year’s Bologna Drop continues the tradition with an added disco ball.

Read More: Annual New Year’s Eve Bologna Drop to usher in 2020

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However, this is far from the only change to have been made to the event over the years. We took a deep dive into Lebanon Daily News’ archives to find out more about the Bologna Drop’s history.

The idea for a Bologna Drop was first formally suggested by Palmyra Councilman Rick White in August of 1997. However, the idea had originated several years earlier.

The idea evidently originated when it was suggested to a WLBR radio show.

LDN’s Dec. 30, 1997 issue, “Giant bologna arrives for city celebration.”
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Various callers into LDN’s Sound Off segment, which asked callers to give short comments about issues important to them, mentioned a possible Bologna Drop prior to its formal suggestion. The earliest it is suggested in this segment is 1995.

LDN’s June 20, 1995 issue, Sound Off.
LDN’s Jan. 6, 1996 issue, Sound Off.
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LDN’s Jan. 4, 1997 issue, Sound Off.
LDN’s Jan. 11, 1997 issue, Sound Off.

In 1997, the ball was finally rolling on the Bologna Drop idea. That year, Kutztown Bologna made a 100-pound, 6-foot bologna to be dropped at the start of 1998.

The celebration, complete with music, noisemakers, and crowds of people, was deemed a success, and would return the next year.

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LDN’s Jan. 2, 1998 issue, “Crowd cheers 100-pound bologna.”

The 1998 bologna drop was also cold: around 20 degrees. The 1999 celebration countered this, with festivities occurring in Harrisburg Area Community College’s Dixon Hall up until 11:45 p.m. Guests had access to refreshments, music, and board games, as well as three magic shows, while sheltered from the cold.

LDN’s Jan. 2 issue, 1999, “Countians ring in new year downtown.”

In 2000, a fire at the Kutztown Bologna Company plant rendered it unable to usher in 2001 with a giant bologna. However, the show must go on, and the drop substituted a papier mache bologna for a real one.

LDN’s Dec. 31, 2000 issue, “It’s paper, but the bologna still drops at midnight.”

The next year, real bologna was dropped once again. However, Kutztown Bologna had not been rebuilt, so Weaver’s Bologna—still the provider of the New Year’s bologna today—provided the 140-pound bologna.

LDN’s Dec. 26, 2001 issue, “No baloney! Real meat to greet 2002.”

Since then, the bologna drop has occurred annually to recognize the New Year. It has become a Lebanon tradition, much like Lebanon bologna itself, which is celebrated in the annual Bologna Fest dating back to before the first bologna drop.

Read More: Bologna Fest 2019 going strong at the Expo Center

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