(RNN) – In the period right after you take down the Christmas tree and just before the first credit card bills hit the mailbox, there is enough time for one more, big old party.
New Year's Eve in New York means the famous Ball Drop to count the old year out. In Alabama, the growing tradition to ring in the New Year takes the form of a delicious, regional confection.
A recent tornado that tore through downtown Mobile won't stop the Port City from celebrating its fifth annual MoonPie Drop on Dec. 31.
It's billed as the "premier New Year's Eve celebration in the Central Time Zone," featuring parades, live music, and highlighted when the huge, lighted replica of a MoonPie slides down the tallest building in Mobile as thousands of residents and visitors count down the seconds remaining in 2012.
The MoonPie has a proud history of celebration in Alabama. In New Orleans, they throw beads and trinkets to the crowds at the Mardi Gras Parade. In Mobile, the first city in the New World to celebrate Mardi Gras back in 1703, they throw food. The "krews" on festive floats have tossed moon pies, along with beads and trinkets, since the first Mardi Gras parade in Mobile in 1952.
"Mobile is the home of America's first Mardi Gras celebration," said Barbara Drummond, who is executive director of administrative services and community affairs for the City of Mobile. "The MoonPie is the favored ‘throw' of the hundreds of Mardi Gras maskers riding the floats during the extensive Mardi Gras parade season."
The metallic MoonPie weighs 350 pounds and is 12' in diameter, and replaced a paiper mache version five years ago. Constructed by Knight Sign Industries from Tuscaloosa, AL, the celestial confection replica will descend from the RSA BankTrust Building's 34th floor.
The event was the idea of Mobile Bay city councilman Fred Richardson, who is still a member of the council.
"Mobile's New Year's Eve Celebration featuring the MoonPie over Mobile has become a culture phenomenon in the entire U.S.A.," said Richardson in a press release.
Specialty events for the MoonPie over Mobile begin the weekend before on Dec. 29 with a scavenger hunt for the paper mache MoonPie that was once dropped.
Led by tips on a Facebook page, the grand prize winner gets VIP passes and a meet-and-greet with The Commodores, the headlining musical act, said VP of Marketing and Communications of the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau Stacy Hamilton. The Commodores are from Alabama.
On Sunday, Dec. 30, Gregg Allman will perform. Other performers begin playing at 5 p.m. on three stages on New Year's Eve as the MoonPie celebration begins.
Also on New Year's Eve, revelers can leave 2012 behind on the Resolution Wall, where you can dine on the worlds' largest MoonPie provided by its creator Chattanooga Bakery while writing your resolutions on the community board.
There will also be a black tie gala, with proceeds going to a homeless shelter for women. Museums, restaurants, and bars will be open for one and all to enjoy, said Hamilton.
The Commodores start to play shortly before midnight, pausing once the countdown begins, and the MoonPie signals the New Year. At midnight, there will be a 15-minute fireworks and laser show.
Drummond said there were more than 60,000 people in Mobile for the MoonPie drop in 2011, and organizers expect as many as 100,000 welcoming 2013 in Mobile.
The MoonPie drop will be broadcast live on several Raycom stations throughout the region.
Copyright 2012 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.
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