- Bo Emerson The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jeezy, TLC and Tyrese are among the entertainers who will help Atlanta ring in the new year, during the annual downtown party called the Peach Drop.
Atlanta’s traditional New Year’s Eve celebration moves from Underground Atlanta to Woodruff Park this weekend, but revelers can expect many of the familiar elements from past events: chilly temps, free music, fireworks and an 800-pound peach.
The free event begins at 5:30 p.m. Sunday and entertainment will commence at 7 p.m.
The park at the center of downtown will be fenced off, with access points at Auburn Avenue and Park Place, Edgewood Avenue and Park Place, Peachtree Street and Edgewood Avenue and Peachtree Street and Walton Street.
“We want people to enjoy celebrating a New Year in a new and exciting location,” said Atlanta Police Deputy Chief Scott Kreher. “Know that the Atlanta Police Department and its many partners are working diligently to ensure a safe and secure event.”
There will be bag searches conducted at the access points and a clear bag policy will be in place. Food and alcohol will be sold inside the park venue, but no outside food or alcohol can be brought to the park. Other prohibited items include: chairs, coolers, umbrellas, drones, pets, bicycles, hoverboards and skateboards.
Underground Atlanta was sold earlier this year to South Carolina developers WRS, and the city began seeking a new spot for the festivities.
Woodruff Park, a few blocks north, was a logical choice.
“We wanted a nice open space with excellent MARTA access,” said Atlanta spokeswoman Anne Torres. “The team felt downtown also made excellent logistical sense with all the additional events and attractions nearby.”
Among the other events happening downtown Sunday: The Falcons/Panthers game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium; R&B supergroup Xscape in concert at Philips Arena; a techno music “experience” featuring Bassnectar at the Georgia World Congress Center; jam band Widespread Panic at the Fox Theatre.
Kreher said the city expects about 25,000 in the “secured” area of Woodruff Park and another 25,000 immediately around it. Considering all the events scheduled, there will be more than 100,000 people downtown, he said.
There are planned street closings at Peachtree Street and Ellis Street on the north and Peachtree Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on the south and multiple street closings east and west of the park. Event-goers are encouraged to ride MARTA to the event, or use rideshare services to reduce vehicular traffic.
Security at the event will use National Incident Management System practices, and a collection of public safety agencies will staff a Joint Operations Center at APD headquarters.
“We’ve seen, nationally and internationally, the uptick in terrorism,” said Kreher. “That has caused us to rethink how we do some things. There’s a lot more planning involved in how put together outdoor events such as this.”
Kreher said there will be 300 to 500 personnel from local, state and federal public safety agencies on hand, but the majority will be Atlanta police. He said the city is also creating a contingency plan for inclement weather. Atlanta police have received no “credible threat” of any incident at the event, he added.
Instead of dropping from a tower above Alabama Street, the Peach will descend from the historic 11-story Flatiron Building, the city’s oldest skyscraper. The 120-year-old building is the nation’s first flatiron building, predating the better-known Flatiron building in New York City by five years.
Like the lighted peach, temperatures are also expected to go down, dipping below freezing Sunday night, with a chance of rain.
Last year the Peach Drop featured Ne-Yo and Collective Soul. Past acts have included Kansas, Tito Jackson, Morris Day and the Time, and Miranda Lambert.
Entertainment — and the Peach wrangling — will be handled by concert promoters Live Nation. Live Nation Atlanta president Peter Conlon said “It will be great entertainment.”