Despite the bitter cold and wintry weather, folks in Marion still came out to celebrate the arrival of 2018 on New Year’s Eve with the annual dropping of the big gold nugget into the big doughnut.
And many of them celebrated with the knowledge that Marion was ranked fourth by CountryLiving.com as one of the best small towns in the United States for New Year’s Eve. The ranking was featured in an online gallery of eight small towns across the United States. The subhead for the listing states: “Ring in 2018 without the overwhelming crowds and overpriced drinks.”
“A short drive from Asheville, Marion celebrates New Year’s Eve with its own quirky take on NYC’s Ball Drop – the annual ‘Gold Nugget Drop,’” reads the online description at www.countryliving.com. “The nod to the state’s gold mining history gets even stranger better when the ‘nugget’ is lowered into a giant donut, which everyone is invited to dig into afterward. There’s also a DJ and costume contest, as well as wagon and train rides for the kiddos, and beer and wine gardens for the adults.”
Teton Village, Wyo. was ranked first followed by Tybee Island, Ga. and Calistoga, Calif. After Marion, the others listed were Park City, Utah; Hocking Hills, Ohio; Lake George, N.Y.; and Healdsburg, Calif. To make it even more significant, Marion was grouped along with other towns that are considered to be high-end resorts and tourist destinations. For example, Calistoga and Healdsburg are located in California’s Wine Country region. Teton Village is near the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks. Tybee Island is close to Savannah, another popular tourist destination.
The listing of Marion by CountryLiving.com was spread locally through social media on the day of New Year’s Eve. By the time Marion’s event was under way that night, many people at the downtown celebration were talking about it.
“At CountryLiving.com, we like to show love to small towns with fun and interesting traditions," said Lifestyle Editor Taysha Murtaugh. "Marion’s unique ‘gold nugget drop,’ coupled with its proximity to Asheville, a popular destination during the holidays, made it a perfect fit for our roundup of small towns to celebrate New Year’s Eve.”
Local officials who helped lead and promote Marion’s event said they were pleased with the national recognition.
The New Year’s Eve Celebration is sponsored by the Marion Rotary Club with assistance from the Marion Business Association, the city of Marion, McDowell County and the McDowell Arts Council.
“We are very proud that Marion’s New Year’s Eve celebration was named as one of the top small-town New Year's Eve events in the United States,” said City Manager Bob Boyette, who helped organize the event. “We have a great partnership between the Marion Rotary Club, the city, Marion Business Association, county, Chamber, MACA and others that allows the event to take place. It was wonderful to see an excellent crowd on Sunday evening for New Year's Eve and to have our downtown business packed, despite the very cold weather. This is one of numerous great events that take place in downtown Marion each year and it is wonderful to receive the recognition.”
Carol Price with the McDowell Tourism Authority said her office sends out information beginning in early November, regarding the New Year’s Eve event. “We contract with print media, online publications and social media,” she said. “It's difficult to tell if they picked this up from us, or from an entity we contract with, i.e. Romantic Asheville. We're always pleased to see positive media coverage, regardless of how they came across it. For example, last year, a Greensboro television station picked it up on social media and ran with it.”
Mayor Steve Little operated the train that ran up and down Main Street in the cold night.
“We know that our gold nugget drop for New Year's Eve is a unique and exciting event,” said the mayor. “With horse and buggy rides and, most recently, the addition of train rides for children, plus many new businesses staying open to provide refreshment and fellowship, we know that we are one of the top places for New Year's Eve anywhere. It is great to see that Country Living magazine feels the same way.”