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  • Writer's pictureMohammed Fuad

Blueberry drop ushers in 2024

Mohammed Fuad/THG The blueberry lights up as the clock strikes 12 to ring in the new year.

HAMMONTON—Hundreds camped outside the town hall and Central Avenue for the annual New Year’s Eve Bash. People in the community kept themselves warm as they waited in the parking lot. As the big blueberry hung above the town hall, live music filled the air with spectators anxiously awaiting the countdown to 2024.

While people anticipated the clock counting down to the new year, many people reflected on what they liked about 2023 and what they are looking forward to in 2024.

Greater Hammonton Chamber of Commerce President Ben Ott attended the event with his family. What both Ben and Laurie Ott liked about 2023 was the success of their game store, Cardboard Arena.

“Cardboard Arena is just taking off,” Ben Ott said. “We just had our one-year anniversary with the game store and for our board game tournament so we’re pretty excited just to see it go.”

Tyler and Emily Fischer also attended the Blueberry Drop. What Emily Fischer liked about 2023 was starting massage therapy school and will be graduating.

“I’ll start working in 2024 so I’m excited about that,” Emily Fischer said.

Hammonton Police Chief Kevin Friel saw that a lot more people attended the city events participating in various offerings.

“I think that the prior couple of years with COVID going on, people were still more reserved, didn’t go out and do things,” Friel said. “But it brought more people to local things. We had a lot more of our residents come out to community events that we’re having and it’s a great thing.”

Friel is looking forward to having more officers join the Hammonton Police Department and coming up with some new and progressive ways to make the community safe.

Nicole Butterline attended the event with her parents, Gabriela and Eric and her sister, Briella. Butterline enjoyed the summer festivals in town like the Mount Carmel Festival.

Hammonton Revitalization Corporation (HRC) board member Jim Paul Bacon attended the event with his family. Bacon saw a lot of growth both personally and professionally.

“We set some goals. We didn’t get to complete them all but we’re looking forward to 2024 to finish those goals that we set in 2022,” Bacon said. “In 2024, we are en route to accomplish some and we’ll do the best that we can to get the other ones.”

For Bacon, his family is looking for a bigger house. In addition, he is looking forward to growing their business, Flowers Cleaning Service in Hammonton.

The event draws from the surrounding area as well. Mays Landing resident Miguel Ruiz attended the Blueberry Drop with his family. What he liked about 2023 was that he’s happy to be alive and prospering, working and taking care of his family.

What Ruiz is looking forward to in 2024 is a better economy and country.

“A little bit more unity between everyone and a little bit of God in everyone’s life,” Ruiz said.

Emily Fischer is looking forward to in 2024 is getting more organized and creating better habits.

As the clock struck 12, the big blueberry hanging above town hall descended and lit up to an excited crowd. The event concluded with a large fireworks display lighting up Hammonton to officially ring in the new year.


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