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Chester County Press

Defying the odds, Kennett Square Mushroom Drop ushers in 2021

01/05/2021 11:48AM ● By Steven Hoffman

Kennett Square celebrated the arrival of the 2021 with its traditional midnight Mushroom Drop, even as limitations were in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Still, Midnight in the Square founder and chairperson Kathi Lafferty and the crew at Bob’s Crane, along with the town’s restaurant and merchant association, cobbled together a virtual event that at least provided the feeling of the borough’s unique identity for fans.

This year, the Mushroom Drop—the eighth annual event—was not featured in the center of town, at the intersection of State and Union streets. Missing were the revelry, food, and live entertainment as well. Nonetheless, there were high points and some excitement.

There was a procession through town early in the evening of the lighted, 700-pound mushroom along with sirens, lights, police cars and fire trucks. It took a lot of people by surprise, especially those who happened to be dining along State Street at around 6 p.m.

Since that parade had been unannounced, some along the route thought there was an emergency going on when they heard the sirens. Yet, as the procession lumbered through town, people cheered and pulled out their cell phones to record the goings-on.

Later, the mushroom, the crew, and the technical equipment for the live-streaming arrived at the location for the event: The parking lot of the Genesis-owned building along South Street, across from Kennett High School.

The area was fenced off and locked, and prospective revelers were invited to settle in the school parking lot to watch the activities while remaining safe.

Early on, after the arrival at the site, the mushroom custodian, Bob’s Crane, led by company owner Rich Nichols, raised the beacon high in the air, visible from afar shortly before 9 p.m. Then, when the midnight hour finally arrived, they lowered the mushroom with the countdown from 10.

In all, what had in the past been a rather raucous celebration was much more quiet this year.

Lafferty said about 30 people stood beside the fence to watch the mushroom come down, while others honked their horns from cars in the parking lot.

Lafferty’s husband, Tom Lafferty, served as master of ceremonies. He told his listeners that he was pleased how the celebration turned out in the face of the challenges. He also said that if, in the future, there are limitations on the location in the middle of town, it was good to know that the parking lot – which will be owned by the borough – was a good option.

Meanwhile , for those who observed from afar, Bob’s Crane drone operator Mike Wood recorded the goings-on from above for the public to see online.

“We all felt good about it, just getting it together,” Lafferty said.

Then, citing the unknown limitations of future events in 2021, she said, “We had a good beginning. We can go from there.”