The annual fireworks and Duck Drop to welcome the new year will go off this year at Havre de Grace Middle School, the only location they’ve been held, perhaps for the last time. The site is likely to be a work zone next year as construction begins on a new combined middle and high school.
Ed Grainger, a longtime member of the Susquehanna Hose Company, is preparing again this year like he has every year since Havre de Grace’s volunteer fire company’s involvement started with the inaugural Duck Drop as 1999 became 2000.
The celebration begins at 10 p.m. at the school and neighboring activity center with dancing to the music provided by DJ Jeff Thompson.
The duck will drop to ring in midnight as fireworks light up the night.
This year’s theme is Blue Lives Matter, to honor the men and women in blue, said Grainger, a former police officer.
“With so much going on with police officers, it’s good to honor them, especially Havre de Grace’s finest,” he said. “They’re always helping us through different things. We want to give them a little plug and hopefully other people will too.”
Last week Grainger was working on the number “8” for 2018, which he had to make this year. Some of the older numbers were stored under the Havre de Grace Opera House while it was under construction and when he went to get them, some were missing.
To welcome 2019 next year, he won’t have to make an extra number – he can turn the “6” upside down.
“It’s all framed out and I’m finishing up the bulbs,” Grainger said.
He also brought down the duck for the Duck Drop.
He’s working on the numbers inside the hose company’s Number One firehouse on Juniata Street.
Grainger typically starts before Thanksgiving, buying the materials. After the holiday, he sets up the duck at his “workshop” in a back bay.
“I’m cutting, putting the wood together, then doing the lights,” he said.
On Thursday, he and other members of the Duck Drop committee will do a mock run, testing the electric and lights.
“We’ve had snafus before, and we’ve gotten through them,” he said.
There has been snow, rain, wind and beautiful weather at past celebrations, “so we’re ready for anything,” he said.
For Grainger, this is how he spends the new year. He’s been doing it since the beginning, since Richard Tome asked the Susquehanna Hose Company to drop the duck off a fire truck.
“I enjoy doing it, I look forward to it. It’s my thing,” he said. “It’s very gratifying that I can do something for the community. When I get out and walk and just look at the people in the crowd, see people dancing and blowing the quackers…”
When the fireworks go off, he’s jumping up and down on the truck.
“I just get so excited about it,” he said. “To actually see the kids, see the people, I know we’re doing something for the family.”