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Duck Drop, fireworks tradition continues this year in HdG

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It's almost the end of 2013 and in Havre de Grace that means it's time for another New Year's Eve celebration tonight, Tuesday.

As has happened nearly every year since the millennium, a duck and fireworks will be part of the turn of the year, a celebration that gets bigger and better every year.

The fireworks, Duck Drop and music will be based at Havre de Grace Middle School.

Organizers say they always draw a good crowd, but it's difficult to get an exact number since some stay in their cars and others watch from elsewhere in the city.

"It goes across the generations. It's one of the goals to create the memories, for our community and our kids," city tourism and marketing manager Brigette Peters said.

For the last few years, the night-time celebration has been headed by Susquehanna Hose Company and Ed Grainger, who's responsible for changing the numbers from year to year and decorating the duck.

After a couple of rough years, the new year's eve celebration has become a tradition in Havre de Grace.

Grainger, who worked with former Havre de Grace resident and city councilman Richard Tome when he created the Duck Drop to ring in 2000, really picked up the ball on the event several years ago when it came super close to not happening.

The year before, when the fire company's ladder truck was out of service, the duck was hung at the top of the J.M. Huber building, and afterward was kept inside where it was dusty and dirty.

After hearing numerous laments from the community that they really wanted to see it continue. So Grainger and some fellow firefighters got up in the Huber tower and pulled out the duck, which was covered in dust. They cleaned it up and the Duck Drop went on, as it has every year since.

"Fire departments are loaded with tradition. I've been in the fire service more than 42 years; I'm a fourth generation firefighter. When I was born, that was my destiny to be a volunteer firefighter," Grainger, 61, said. "Tradition is really the main word. For me, it's what I was born to do. It's also important to please the public. It brings everybody together in a great environment. It's a great event and we keep improving."

The duck will be green to ring in 2014, in honor of St. Baldrick's Foundation, which raises money to fight childhood cancer. Recent ducks have been pink for Breast Cancer Awareness and red, white and blue to remember the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and to kick off the 150th anniversary of the start of the War of 1812.

On March 15, Susquehanna Hose Company is hosting a fundraiser at Bill Bateman's in Havre de Grace to benefit St. Baldrick's.

"I'm very proud of Havre de Grace, it always has niches to break into and it really kind of shines," Peters said.

It will shine especially bright on new year's even when the fireworks light up the night.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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