Grape Drop Countdown becomes “First Night” New Year’s Eve celebration

TEMECULA – In its first three years, Old Town Temecula’s Grape Drop New Year’s Countdown has become a tradition, with families gathering at the Civic Center to enjoy the music and festivities. This year, the New Year’s Eve celebration becomes a First Night USA event, part of a nationwide collection of cities offering a culturally artistic, family-friendly, non-alcoholic New Year’s Eve party.

Temecula’s First Night Grape Drop Countdown will include family games in the Civic Center Conference Room, a youth art program titled “Art in Motion,” New Year’s Eve hat decorations from 3 to 5 p.m., and a grand procession at 5:05 p.m. in front of the Civic Center with a brass band.

Four bands will play at the Civic Center beneath a dangling bunch of luminous grapes from 4:30 p.m. New Year’s Eve until 12:30 a.m. New Year’s Day. Additional bands will play throughout Old Town as part of the celebration.

Dynamite Dave will offer his “New Year’s Hats” from 5 to 9 p.m. Kids can also enjoy a party jump and face painting until 9 p.m. and the Old Town Temecula Ice Rink will be open until 1:30 a.m. with regular sessions.

Spectators will count down to midnight while watching an illuminated bunch of grapes descend from the city hall tower. Coined the “Great Grape Drop,” the grapes pay tribute to Temecula’s wine and agricultural industry.

When the Grape Drop Countdown was conceived three years ago, a 3-foot by 7-foot bunch of illuminated grapes slowly descended from a crane positioned in front of City Hall which was under construction. Each year the grapes have been enhanced and now they drop from the city hall clock tower at 9 p.m. (East Coast countdown) and midnight (West Coast countdown.)

This year’s version will be 7-feet by 12-feet long and include 97 sequined balls, 54 illuminated spheres, seven giant illuminated leaves, and over 4,500 twinkling lights.

Deejay Geoffrey Gaier will emcee the evening by broadcasting through the Old Town sound system to synchronize all the New Year’s Eve Old Town activities.

“It’s grape fun to watch,” said Melody Brunsting who created both the grape drop concept and the grapes. “This is better than New York. There is no admission charge, you can choose your dinner from all the restaurants in Old Town, and then celebrate a giant countdown.”

The Second Hand Brass Band will start the festivities at 4:30 p.m. Then, at 5 p.m., New Year’s Revelers, Dynamite Dave, city officials, and spectators will make a grand procession to the square wearing hats they have created and designed for New Year’s. Hat decorating will be from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Civic Center, with ball caps donated by Head to Toe and a variety of craft items.

The Silver Beatles will take over at 6 p.m. with all the usual hits of the “Fab Four.” Also, at the Tesoro Winery parking lot and patio, the Valley Winds Big Band will help revelers dance the New Year in with Swing and Jitterbug style from 6 to 9 p.m.

Safety Orange takes the Civic Center stage at 8:15 p.m. and will rock in the East Coast countdown at 9 p.m. Started by Harry Elmore and Sol Turpin as a fun after-surf activity, the musicians created an original fun beach vibe, a blend of rock, reggae, rap, punk, and ska that is popular in San Diego.

The evening closes out with CLOUD from 10:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. CLOUD is known for their high energy and rocking vocals.

Chairs and patio heaters will be provided at each band location, but guests are encouraged to bring fold up chairs and wear warm clothing. Picnic baskets and blankets are welcome. Please be aware that it is illegal to have open containers of alcohol on Temecula’s streets and sidewalks.

The ice rink is open New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day with regular hour sessions. Cost is $10 per person per session and $3 for skate rental. For additional information, call (951) 297-9423.

For a schedule of Old Town Temecula events contact the City of Temecula, (951) 694-6480 or visit www.temeculaevents.org or www.cityoftemecula.org.

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