In Havre de Grace they live by the phrase, “The Duck Drops Here” — with apologies to the saying made popular by President Harry Truman, “The Buck Stops Here.”
But this year on New Year’s Eve, the duck will be dropping at a new venue, Concord Point Park, home of the Concord Point Lighthouse, at 700 Concord Street. It has been previously held at Havre de Grace Middle School. But construction on a new combined middle and high school prompted the move.
Since the year 2000 arrived, a large wooden duck representing the local waterfowl heritage has been lowered in Havre de Grace, much like the giant ball in New York City’s Times Square. Having it downtown was one of the early concepts.
“I think from the beginning we thought about it,” Ed Grainger, chairman of the Duck Drop committee who has been with the event since the beginning, said in an email. “Richard Tome, the original Duck Drop creator, a local businessman and former City Council member, always dreamed of having the Duck Drop downtown as a ‘First Night’ celebration.
“We have had tremendous participation from all the departments from the city, (police department, DPW, Visitors Center, etc.) including the Maritime Museum, the Decoy Museum and the Concord Point Lighthouse folks. The only challenge we ever have is the weather, and the wind is number one.There is no rain date or snow date. We go on.”
The Duck Drop has been one of many community service projects of the Susquehanna Hose Company, the city’s volunteer fire company.
This year’s Duck Drop will honor Nathan Flynn, a member of the volunteer fire company. Flynn, a 13-year veteran Howard County firefighter, died after falling through the floor of a burning Clarksville home in July. Flynn, 34, of Havre de Grace, was the first firefighter with the Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services to be killed in the line of duty.
Grainger said he started working on this year’s event earlier because of the move. It takes months of preparation to pull it off.
But Grainger said they are looking forward to having the Duck Drop at the new site on Monday.
“We are looking for another big event. We have been advertising the move for awhile now, so we hope everyone gets the word. The city plans to have signs up at the middle school to direct watchers to the Lighthouse grounds.
Here are some key numbers surrounding the event:
0 — Cost. It’s free! And family friendly.
1 — First year the Duck Drop will be held at Concord Point Park, home of the Concord Lighthouse.
20 – Approximate number of volunteers.
20 — Length of fireworks (minutes).
500-800 — People expected.