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Chester County Press

Sky clears for midnight mushroom drop in Kennett Square Borough

01/03/2023 01:13PM ● By Steven Hoffman

A three-quarters moon broke through wet clouds just one hour before the huge lighted mushroom dropped onto Kennett Square’s town center on Saturday night.

Many of the several hundred revelers onsite rejoiced with the respite from the rain that threatened their comfort. For others, it made little difference to them, because they were prepared to celebrate the arrival of 2023 regardless of the weather.

Kathi Lafferty, the event’s chairperson, said she and her committee took the daylong gloomy conditions in stride.

“I’ve been through the rain before. It was a disappointment though because the dance team couldn’t come because of their costumes,” she said.

Former Mayor and community activist Leon Spencer livened the evening as the master of ceremonies. Routinely popular and enthusiastic, he maintained a lively connection with the audience as he moved from spectator-to-spectator asking their experiences at the event and thanking them for coming.

He exclaimed heartily when they told him they had arrived from afar, and, to a young child who said he loved football, “In six or seven years I’ll be announcing you from the press box,” he said.

Spencer announces Kennett High School’s home football games.

This was the 10th annual mushroom drop, which Lafferty has dubbed, “Midnight in the Square.” It simulates the nationally recognized ball drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Lafferty came up with the idea for the event to honor the crop that has earned Kennett Square its nickname, “Mushroom Capital of the World.”

The Nichols family of Bob’s Crane oversees the mushroom and the crane that lowers it. The family was on the scene en masse, as usual, to make sure the landing pad was safe while also providing the crowd with a chance to be up close.

During the last decade, the event has seen cold, rain and all kinds of weather as well as crowds that vary from thousands to a few hundred when conditions decline. Even when the recent COVID-19 pandemic severely limited public gatherings two years ago, Lafferty held a limited version of the event at the sprawling borough property on South Broad Street.

On Saturday, the Funsters band brought joy and enthusiasm to the crowd throughout the evening. When the mushroom finally descended at midnight, the band followed up with a rousing version of “Sweet Caroline” as the spectators gathered at the fenced landing to touch it. 

There were also vendors with coffee and souvenirs, and many visitors came dressed with holiday-themed garbs.

Lafferty was the longtime chairperson of the annual and very popular Mushroom Festival as well. She also owns and runs the fungus-themed “Mushroom Cap” shop on State Street in the borough.