5 flashback moments from Atlanta’s Peach Drop

A look back at the history of Atlanta’s Peach Drop.

The Peach Drop has been a time-honored New Year’s Eve tradition in Atlanta, but for the third year in a row, it has been canceled.

“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.”

Here’s a look back on the New Year’s Eve tradition.

The Peach Drop, which first began in 1989, was always an all-day party with food, music and the Times Square-style dropping of a giant peach. The event attracted about 100,000 people annually to the festivities, which were long held at Underground Atlanta.

But with the sale of Underground Atlanta, the forever home of the Peach Drop was ushered to a new home.

The city moved the event to Woodruff Park for New Year’s 2017, but brought it back to Underground Atlanta for 2018.

Here are 5 epic flashbacks from Atlanta's Peach Drop:

The Peach Drop has been an Atlanta tradition since 1989 at Underground Atlanta. (AJC file)

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The Peach is everything.

Before it ever takes a 10-second tumble, the Peach gets a makeover. It is painted and refurbished each year. And that’s no easy job, because the Peach is heavy. It weighs in at more than 800 pounds — almost as much as an average adult horse. The monstrous peach is roughly 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide. The Peach is made of fiberglass and foam, and once the countdown begins, it takes about 58 seconds to descend the 138 foot tower of lights to its resting place at the bottom. We just count for the last 10.

Remember that year a giant M&M was attached to the tower?

As Underground Atlanta prepared for the 25th annual Peach Drop (in 2014), a mysterious giant yellow M&M appeared on the Peach tower. It turned out to be a marketing campaign of Mars Chocolate North America for “Year of Peanut.” Michelle Lawrence, a spokeswoman for Underground Atlanta, explained the company originally proposed replacing the Peach Drop with the M&M peanut candy, but Lawrence explained why that was a no-go. “It’s important that we maintain the integrity and tradition of the Peach Drop.”

There was a bit of outcry over the marketing move, with social media panning the decision as a desecration of the Peach Drop's purity.

December 31, 2016, Atlanta - Ne Yo performs at the Peach Drop in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 31, 2016. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Credit: David Barnes

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Credit: David Barnes

The musical lineup’s memorable years

The first headline act to perform — back when the Peach first dropped in 1989 — was the Robert Ray Orchestra. Since then an array of talented musical headliners have hit the stage, including Lonestar (2007), Miranda Lambert (2008), Julianne Hough (2009), Tito Jackson (2011), Kansas (2012), Abbey Road LIVE! (2013), Sugar Ray (2015), Ludacris (2015), Collective Soul (2017) and many others.

December 31, 2016, Atlanta - Spectators cheer during a DJ set in the rain during the Peach Drop in Atlanta, Georgia, on Saturday, December 31, 2016. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Credit: David Barnes

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Credit: David Barnes

Ginormous crowds, especially the one in 2009

The Peach Drop celebration was a huge attraction for Underground Atlanta. It brought in people from all over the world and country to witness its descent into the New Year, year after year. In 2013, a crowd of more than 100,000 was expected to watch the annual Peach Drop. And in 2009, a crowd between 100,000 and 170,000 people gathered.

January 1, 2017, Atlanta - Fireworks are shot off at midnight at the Peach Drop in Atlanta, Georgia, on Sunday, January 1, 2017. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Credit: David Barnes

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Credit: David Barnes

The Peach’s last year at Underground Atlanta (Tearing up) .

As 2017 neared, the Peach’s location in Underground Atlanta came to an end. For nearly 28 years the city had hosted an all-day party on Dec. 31, featuring food, music, confetti, fireworks and the ceremonial lowering of the 800-pound Peach from a tower above Underground.

A.J. Robinson, president of Central Atlanta Progress, noted “It’s a great opportunity for us to rethink where a New Year’s Eve celebration should be. It may return in a different format and a different place, but I’m confident the community will rise to the occasion and come up with a good solution.”