The threat of inclement weather won’t affect Pensacola’s Pelican Drop, organizers of the New Year’s Eve event said Wednesday.
The National Weather Service has predicted a blustery New Year’s Eve, with a low around 51 degrees, wind gusts as high as 20 miles per hour, and a 70 percent chance of rain. Still, event organizer Danny Zimmern said the event would move forward as planned.
“New Year’s Eve symbolizes celebration, hope and community,” Zimmern said, “and we plan to welcome 2016 with fanfare, whether or not the weather cooperates.”
The Pensacola Pelican Drop is one of the Gulf Coast’s biggest New Year’s events, drawing upwards of 50,000 people to historic downtown Pensacola for a street party featuring live music, fireworks and family fun. The free festivities, centered on Palafox Street, will begin at 3 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and continue until 12:30 a.m.
Children’s activities, carnival-style games and two stages of live music will keep crowds entertained throughout the night, and an assortment of food trucks — in addition to downtown’s normal lineup of stellar restaurants — will keep them fed.
A new addition to this year’s event is the Law Office of JJ Talbott’s Little Pelican Party — a family-friendly lineup of events including festival games, live entertainment and a city-wide blessing delivered by Influence Pensacola.
The party will kick off at 3 p.m. and culminate with the lighting of the Pelican at 8. The mini-finale, complete with stomping of bubble wrap and a pyrotechnic display, will provide a fun, festive end to the evening for those whose bedtimes might prevent them from seeing the big fireworks show at midnight.
For those without a bedtime, however, the party will just be getting started. Headlining act the Chee Weez, a high-energy cover band from New Orleans, will perform on the Levin-Rinke Main Stage beginning at 10 p.m. They will be joined by five up-and-coming country acts who will perform throughout the evening on the World Ford Stage.
Because this year’s festivities coincide with the college football playoffs, Downtown Pensacola is also inviting fans to watch the game from two “TV gardens” specially constructed for the occasion, off Palafox.
All the evening’s festivities will lead up to one grand, fireworks-filled finale — when Pensacola’s iconic Pelican descends from its perch 110 feet above the intersection of Palafox and Garden streets.
The bird, designed by local artist Michael Dicks, boasts a 20-foot wingspan and is plumaged with more than 2,000 hand-cut, metal feathers and 2,500 lights. Its flight will be heralded by a fireworks display over Downtown Pensacola, welcoming the city into its 457th year.
More than 50,000 people are expected at this year’s event. To help with parking, the Winterfest organization will provide free trolley service between Palafox and the paid lots at the Pensacola Bay Center. To see a map of all available parking, along with a full schedule of New Year’s performances and events, visit pensacolapelicandrop.com.