A chilly winter night greeted a crowd of over 1,500 that had gathered to ring in the New Year on Monday night in Old Town Temecula.
In partnership with the First Night USA organization, Temecula celebrated community spirit with family friendly festivities.
On television, you may have spied a Fleur-de-lis sinking over New Orleans or the Musical Note of Nashville, but in Temecula, the city lowered a gigantic bunch of glowing purple grapes.
Symbolic of Temecula’s renowned wine country, the unique fixture was lowered first at 9 p.m., and again midnight with Mayor Chuck Washington on hand to usher in 2013.
“This year the grapes are much bigger than last year. They measure six feet by twelve feet long, weigh approximately 250 pounds and are covered with over 7,000 lights,” said Melody Brunsting.
The assembly of the LED lit grape bunch took over 100 hours of construction time and another 100 hours to assemble.
“The city did a couple of dry runs, timing the drop. Next year, we’ll find a way to light them up even more,” Brunsting promised.
The illuminated bunch of purple grapes hung at the tower to the delight and amusement of all in attendance.
Grape Drop (Courtesy of Ashley Ludwig):
“We’ve come for two years and this is such a wonderful way to ring in the New Year,” said Elizabeth Horn while waiting in line for face painting with her daughter. “It’s great for the kids to see the grapes drop, listen and dance to the music and enjoy the free activities right here in the heart of Old Town.”
Orange County resident Veronica Fernandez said: “We wanted to do something new and different this New Year’s and found out about the Temecula New Year’s party online. It sounded perfect for the kids and they’re having a blast.”
Though temperatures plunged into the low 30s, the crowd of warmly dressed revelers gathered to enjoy the fun. With face painters, magician, bouncy house, balloons and ice skating, the Civic Center plaza was abuzz with activity.
Live entertainment included The Silver Beatles, performing the Beatles’ best songs, Safety Orange and local favorite Cloud wrapped up the night on the steps of City Hall.
While the masses awaited face painting, balloon hats by Dynamite Dave and a real magic show by Dr. Goodjohn, ice skaters twirled as music from the Civic Center Stage pumped through the crowd.
“First Night is a nod to making the community a safe place,” said Serendipity Antiques shop owner Bonnie Reed. “We opened up our doors and invited all to come and share some cider, light refreshments, shop and see it all from our porch and patio.”
Opening her store from 7 p.m. until just before midnight, Reed added: “It’s imperative to create community pride in our town. This event shows that there is something for people of all ages in Old Town. We’re packed. And this is our way of saying ‘thank you’ to the city that we appreciate so much.”
Ashley Ludwig is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.