While the commonality between a giant Waterford Crystal and an 800-pound beach ball is not obvious, the season offers a clue. On Thursday, December 31, New Year’s 2010 will be ushered in by traditional countdown “drops” across the nation. Just as New York City has its Times Square Crystal Ball, Panama City Beach in Northwest Fla. will embrace its seaside roots with the second annual Panama City Beach Beach Ball Drop presented by Southwest Airlines. In collaboration with Southwest Airlines and hosted by Pier Park, Panama City Beach’s Beach Ball Drop event represents what the destination is all about — white sand beaches, family togetherness and just plain fun.
“Last year’s inaugural Beach Ball Drop attracted 12,000 visitors, and we’re expecting that number to grow this year,” said Dan Rowe, president and CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The destination is in a celebratory mood in anticipation of the New Year as it will bring exciting new developments our way. This includes the May opening of the Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport and a long-lasting partnership with Southwest Airlines.”
Southwest Airlines, the first airline to announce service to the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, rings in the new year with Panama City Beach in serving as the presenting sponsor for the annual event. The 800-pound glowing beach ball begins the more than 100-foot descent just before midnight on December 31. Pier Park festivities, free and open to the public, begin at 5:30 p.m. with family-friendly entertainment including bounce houses, party favors, street performers, stilt walkers and face painters. The family portion of the event culminates at 8:30 p.m. with fireworks and a family ball drop, consisting of 7,000 inflatable beach balls that will then paruse floating up and down the Boardwalk section of Pier Park.
The countdown celebration takes place from 9:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. when streets will be closed to traffic. In addition to the highly-anticipated beach ball drop, guests will enjoy live musical performances, prize giveaways including six pairs of round trip airfare compliments of Southwest Airlines and a majestic midnight fireworks display over the Gulf of Mexico. Last year’s event was considered to be very well attended, but this year’s event is expected to be much larger. One of the main distinguishing differences this year is the addition of a major band performance that will draw thousands. Vertical Horizon was a popular 90’s alternative band and is said to draw a valued demographic. They had hits such as You’re a God, and Everything You Want, and they are promoting a new album now with their latest single debuting over summer 2009: Save Me From Myself. Visit www.VerticalHorizon.com for more and to listen to some of their music.