Peach Drop canceled for 3rd year in row as Atlanta enters COVID Red Zone

The Peach Drop at Underground Atlanta has been canceled for the third year in a row.

“In consultation with public health officials, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the Peach Drop,” Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement Tuesday. “As positive COVID-19 cases rise, I encourage everyone to be safe, get vaccinated and follow CDC guidelines.”

The mayor’s statement also noted that the city “has moved to the Red Zone.” That status indicates that new cases average above 250 when monitored across 10 days, hospitalizations average above 350 and test positivity is above 10%. There are no policies attached to the color-coding system, which Atlanta unveiled in August to replace the former reopening phases plan.

However, on Dec. 21, Bottoms announced Atlanta was back in the Yellow Zone and issued an executive order to reinstate the citywide indoor mask mandate. It took only a week for the numbers to reach the Red Zone.

The nixing of this year’s Peach Drop is happening amid a spate of other comparable cancellations following a rise in omicron-fueled COVID-19 cases. Fox Theatre canceled four dates with Widespread Panic Dec. 28 to Dec. 31 on Monday, pushing the concerts to August 2022. A few hours later, Atlanta Symphony Hall did the same with two Indigo Girls concerts Dec. 30 and 31, postponed an entire year.

The Peach Drop has been around since 1989 and has drawn upwards of 100,000 people to Underground Atlanta, which is largely empty now.

People try to keep warm while waiting for the live entertainment to start at Woodruff Park during the Peach Drop 2017, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017, in Atlanta. BRANDEN CAMP / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

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On New Year’s Day 1990, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that “a crowd estimated at more than 100,000 people came to Underground Atlanta on a rainy and gloomy night to ring in the new decade and cheer the city’s newest symbol — a giant peach that descended at midnight and brought a deafening roar from a wildly ecstatic crowd.”

As 2017 became 2018, the festivities moved to a new spot: the historic Flatiron Building. Revelers watched from Woodruff Park as the fiberglass peach descended at midnight.

That would be a one-time thing. Bottoms canceled the 2019 Peach Drop since it didn’t have Underground Atlanta as a location confirmed. Last year, the pandemic forced a second cancellation.

The mayor’s office Dec. 16 announced Ashanti and Atlanta’s own hip-hop act Goodie Mob as headliners for this year’s Peach Drop.

The last Peach Drop in 2018 featured two hometown R&B acts Jagged Edge and 112 and 1990s-era alternative rock band Better than Ezra.

Others who have performed include legendary R&B singer Little Richard (2003), country band Lonestar (2007), country singer Miranda Lambert (2008), dancer/singer Julianne Hough (2009), R&B singer Tito Jackson (2011), classic rock band Kansas (2012), Beatles cover band Abbey Road Live! (2013), R&B star Janelle Monae (2014), 1990s pop-rock band Sugar Ray (2015), Atlanta rap legend Ludacris (2015), rock band Sister Hazel (2016) and R&B star Ne-Yo and Atlanta rock band Collective Soul (2017).

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