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Harrisburg's famous Strawberry falls, shatters, will be replaced for NYE

Updated: Friday, December 27 2013, 10:32 PM CST
Reported by: Jesse Knutson

HARRISBURG -- The Hilton Harrisburg has marked the new year by dropping a strawberry at midnight for the past 24 years, but today, that plan was put in jeopardy.

During a practice run, the 65-pound fiberglass strawberry fell 55 feet to the ground and shattered into hundreds of pieces.

“It just shattered, I mean, almost like a bomb,” said Mark Twigg, who was walking by the Hilton Harrisburg when the strawberry dropped. “I saw these people freaking out and yelling, and then I saw them picking up pieces of the strawberry.”

Now the Hilton Harrisburg is planning to build a new strawberry for the New Year's Eve drop. The new strawberry will be the third used to mark the New Year.

The first strawberry was retired in 1999 when the fiberglass strawberry that was destroyed today took over for the new millennium.

The remains of the fiberglass strawberry were left in a dumpster, and it was mangled beyond the point of repair.

“We have not let down Harrisburg in 24 years, this will be the 25th year, and we’re going to work through the weekend, whatever hours necessary, to get it done and get it done in time,” Robert Shank, chief engineer for the Hilton Harrisburg, said.

Shank says the events today were very unfortunate and should never have happened. The 65-pound strawberry was being held by a 200-lb. D-clip, so it should have been secured. Shank says the most important detail is that no one was injured in this accident.

"We had the area roped off for safety reasons, and it fell within that area.”  Shank says it will be quite the task to build the new strawberry in such a short time, but he believes Harrisburg’s third strawberry should be the best yet.

“It’ll be about the same size, a lot more lights, and it will be a little more environmentally friendly,” Shank said. “We’re going to use LED lights.”

The Hilton Harrisburg said it's looking into what went wrong during the practice run, but as of Friday night, it was unclear as to how the strawberry fell to the ground and shattered. 

A representative with the hotel tells CBS 21 that the building of the new strawberry is well underway and it's already about halfway done.Harrisburg's famous Strawberry falls, shatters, will be replaced for NYE

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