Hate Staying Up Until Midnight? This is the New Year’s Eve Celebration for You
Harmony’s German-style New Year’s Eve celebration features a ball drop, fireworks, tree tossing and Gluhwein — all at 6 p.m.
Let’s be honest: Ringing in the new year just isn’t the same once you have small children.
Staying up until midnight? As if. And I’m not talking about the kids here (I know mine will happily be wide eyed until 12:01 a.m. while blowing on extremely loud noisemakers), I’m talking about us — the sleepy parents.
The late hour — and the desire to be off the road as New Year celebrations let out — are just two of the reasons why the annual Silvester Celebration on Dec. 31 in Harmony is such a boon to parents (and nonparents) everywhere. Taking place throughout the charming, historic town — which was settled in the early 19th century by the Harmony Society, a group of mostly German immigrants — Silvester is celebrated in German time.
That means a lighted ball drop, fireworks and a rousing group rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” take place at 6 p.m., which is midnight in Germany.
Although wandering around Harmony’s eclectic National Historic District is lovely anytime (I highly recommend stopping at Wunderbar Coffee & Crepes for a hot chocolate, then picking up a treat from The Two Fraus or Lagerhaus bakeries), the festivities officially kick off around 3 p.m.
Near the driveway of the Harmony Museum is a Christmas tree tossing contest for adults and older kiddos. For those younger than 10, there’s wreath tossing. As you hurl your tree (or wreath) in the air, a barker calls out the distance to be put on the record as the crowd cheers or, in some cases, laughs. Winners this year receive a $20.23 gift certificate to local businesses.
For those who want to run out the last hours of 2022, the Silvester 5K and accompanying 1-Mile Fun Run take place though the center of town at 3:30 and 4:15 p.m. respectively.
And for those who want to spend the end of the year eating, a traditional German-style pork and sauerkraut dinner is offered inside the museum, where you can also check out a mix of Harmonist and Mennonite artifacts. Volunteers will also be serving tasty Gluhwein, a traditional hot mulled cider, inside souvenir mugs.
From there, wander over to the Harmony Fire District 22 station, where you’ll find more food and beverages — as well as the opportunity to climb aboard some of the engines.
Of course, no visit to Harmony would be complete without a stop at The Harmony Inn. Built in 1856, the distinctive building — which features a mustache on its front facade underneath two round, eye-like windows — has been owned since 2013 by the purveyors of North Country Brewing Company. The Italianate-style former hotel also was one of the first licensed saloons in Butler County.
While the old-fashioned, warm wood bar and tin ceiling of the building’s interior is not to be missed, the spot to be on New Year’s Eve is the popular outdoor patio and covered bar, which is warmed up by a towering brick fireplace and accompanying heating lamps.
As the clock ticks closer to 6 p.m., make your way up to the town square, where a lighted ball dangles overhead from a crane. As a deejay spins tunes, join the people already dancing in the streets.
Once the ball drops and fireworks explode in the darkened air, and as the crowd around you shouts “Happy New Year!” and shares hugs and kisses, Harmony truly is a magical place to be on New Year’s Eve — and (best of all) it feels just like midnight.
Insider Tip: Impress your friends with the history behind Silvester, which was named by the Germans for the ancient feast day commemorating the 4th century-era Pope Sylvester I, who died on the last day of 335.
While You’re Here: The nine-site Harmony Museum presents the community’s extraordinary history with guided tours of three buildings from 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Reservations are recommended. Harmony is at I-79 exits 87-88, about 10 miles north of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and 30 miles south of I-80.