By Tonya Jackson
Thousands braved the intermittent rain and cooler temperature to welcome the New Year at the 2016 Pelican Drop. Perched above its new location, the intersection of Garden and Palafox Streets, the well-lit pelican rested above an excited crowd waiting for the midnight countdown.
The eight-year-old New Year’s celebration began with kid-friendly entertainment at 3:00 pm. The evening also included a parade, marching bands, live music performances on two stages, and live remote broadcasting from local television and radio stations.
While the featured band, Chee Weez, played various 80s hits, preteen, Alyssa Durant, talked about attending her first Pelican Drop. “I really like the band and I am having a great time.” She beamed, adding an enthusiastic “Yes!” in response to attending next year’s Drop.
Jessica Toomey and her friend, Amber wore big smiles and said they were ready for 2015 to be in the past. “We had to come out and celebrate,” exclaimed Jessica.
Main stage sponsors Levin Rinke Real Estate; Sue Straughn, WEAR; Julio Diaz, Pensacola News Journal; and Mayor Aston Hayward addressed the crowd prior to the pelican leaving its perch.
As everyone counted the remaining seconds of 2015, the luminous pelican made its descent amid cheers and landed safely atop “2016 Pensacola” at the stroke of midnight.
With fireworks, cheers, and the required first kiss of the New Year, the celebration continued until after 1:00 am.
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