New Bern keeps tradition alive with annual Bear Drop despite pandemic

NEW BERN, N.C. (WNCT) — New Year’s Eve celebrations locally and around the world will look different this year, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, that didn’t stop the celebration in New Bern. The city held its annual Bear Drop on Thursday. In a normal year, the streets would be flooded with people to watch the annual event. There would be live music and food, too.

Not this year, however. Instead of the usual midnight drop, the bear was dropped at 6 p.m. It was to coincide with the new year in New Bern’s sister city, Bern, Switzerland.

Foster Hughes, New Bern Parks and Rec director, said it was still important to ring in the new year while also complying with the statewide 10 p.m. curfew.

“This is the last day of 2020. You see the weather,” Hughes said. “It’s raining, it’s cold, it’s going to be kind of miserable, so this bear drop, we hope this bear drop any other drops that are taking place throughout the state and the country are just a good way to end 2020, and we hope that 2021 is going to be a great new year.”

The bear drop was also broadcast live on the city’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. City leaders said they are looking forward to dropping the bear again at the end of 2021, this time at midnight.