Every Sarasotan’s favorite street party plans to make a triumphant return to downtown on New Year’s Eve.
The popular Pineapple Drop, which marked the start of the New Year for quite some time, was sorely missed by its fans in 2011. Original festival creator Ernie Ritz, who 2012 Pineapple Drop’s organizer Rich Swier calls a true "Sarasota lover of the city," was not able to make it happen last year. For this year, he wanted to still be involved with the event, just on a smaller scale.
Swier and his associates picked up the ball, and he says he thinks the 2012 event will be better than ever—with a large part of it focusing on music.
“We really got local musicians involved and lots of local artists,” he said. “It will have more of a festival feel, and it will really be a celebration for the local bands, which will get to play to a significant audience.”
In order to give more bands and DJs more exposure, Swier said there will be four stages set up at locations in front of the buildings of the primary event sponsors.
Downtown streets will be blocked off beginning at 6 p.m., and the music will begin playing around 8 p.m:
- The HuB building will be the site of a stage near Orange and Main Streets;
- Mattison’s stage will be on Lemon Street at First;
- Ivory will have a stage on Main Street at Pineapple; and
- the Gator Club’s stage will be on Lemon at State Street.
Each stage will feature a different genre of music, from electronic to blues.
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One of the new features of this year’s event will be the very kid-friendly carnival, which will open up around 2 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and go through the night until 1:30 a.m. There will be rides for children and adults, and even a funhouse.
“There will be tons of rides and it will be great for the kids,” Swier said. “We’re a circus town, and it will bring it back here. There’s just a different kind of smile on a kid’s face when they’re at a carnival or a circus than at any other time.”
Having the carnival at the event makes it fun for the whole family, and for the duration of the event, there will be food and drink available on the street, as well as at nearby local restaurants and bars.
Swier also said that the way the festival is set up, roughly within the perimeter of State Street, Central Avenue, First Street and Orange Avenue, lends itself to lots of pedestrian traffic. A downtown Sarasota resident himself, he hopes that people who come to the festival will learn the city like he does.
“I think so many people come downtown and they rarely experience it in this way,” he said. “The format of this festival really allows people to walk downtown—sometimes for the first time. It gives people a little more time to explore.”
But the star of the night is, of course, the pineapple itself. Gleaming with the brightness of around 500 bulbs and an imposing 4 feet wide by 8 feet tall, it will be lowered to a countdown, just like the one you’ve seen from Times Square.
Except it’s all very tropical Sarasota.
Who needs an apple when you have a pineapple?
The Pineapple Drop New Year’s Street Party
Dec. 31, from 2 p.m. until 1:30 a.m.
Downtown Sarasota, Main Street, from Orange to Central Avenue.
Pineapple Drop itself will be lowered at Selby Five Points Park by Selby Library
Attendance to the event is free.
For more information, visit the website at www.pineappledrop.com or the Facebook page.