Pier Park preps for annual Beach Ball Drop

Pier Park preps for annual Beach Ball Drop

Representatives from Simon Property Group across the country inflate 10,000 beach balls to prepare for New Year's Eve on Monday.

Heather Leiphart / The News Herald
Published: Tuesday, December 31, 2013 at 10:12 AM.

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Pier Park in Panama City Beach will ring in the New Year tonight with the help of 10,000 inflated beach balls.

Festivities will kick off at 5:30 p.m. for the sixth annual New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop and continue until 2014 reaches the Gulf Coast.

Susan Estler, vice president of marketing for the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, said the event drew 40,000 attendees last year and officials are expecting an even bigger turnout this year.

“I think with the start of the Beach Ball Drop, it certainly has changed New Year’s Eve here in Panama City Beach for the good,” Estler said. “The event has just grown tremendously and has become a popular event throughout the Southeast.”

One thing that makes the event unique, Estler said, is that it offers two countdowns to 2014 – an earlier one for children and another at midnight for adults.

“There are two different sets of activities and one is very family friendly,” Estler said. “Traditionally, it’s very difficult for kids to stay up for New Year’s Eve, so I believe we’ve done something very unique.”

The family celebration will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will feature face painting, costumed characters and exclusive giveaways, as live entertainment from The Barry Fish Band and Alex Angelo. At 8 p.m., 10,000 beach balls will descend over the crowd on Pier Park Drive with an accompanying fireworks display.

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