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10th Annual Ruby Drop set for New Year’s Eve in Franklin

By Kristin Fox

What started as one local businessman’s idea to bring more business to downtown Franklin after Christmas and drawing inspiration from nearby Brasstown’s Possum Drop, the New Year’s Eve Ruby Drop has become one of Franklin’s favorite holiday traditions. 

This year marks the 10th anniversary the Crabtree family, with help from the Town of Franklin, has sponsored the New Year’s Eve Ruby Drop.

The 10th Annual Ruby Drop, sponsored by Motor Company Grill and Crabtree General Store & Coffee Vault, will ring in the New Year with two ruby drops, one at 9:00 p.m. and another at midnight to officially welcome in 2024.

“Last year we tried the earlier time for the Ruby Drop,” said Crabtree. “We got a 50/50 response; some people didn’t like it because it wasn’t midnight and not really the New Year and others loved it because it was a good time for the kids to come out to celebrate.”

“So, we decided to do two drops, the first for those who don’t like staying out late and especially for the kids,” he added. “We want it to be a family friendly event, so the first drop gives them the opportunity to feel like they are involved in celebrating the New Year. The change to have two drops will allow those with younger ones to enjoy the festivities either early, late or both.”

The red ruby suspended from a crane 60 feet in the air will drop the last minute of 2023 while the crowd cheers and recites the ceremonial countdown to midnight and the ringing in of the New Year.

With the town’s approval of closing the entire Main Street, organizers will centrally locate the Ruby Drop in the center of downtown at Franklin’s Town Square at the intersection of Iotla and Main Streets.

Main Street will be closed from 5:00 p.m. through 2:00 a.m. for the celebration. Traffic will be rerouted behind the hospital. Parking will be available in areas located behind the downtown businesses.

The 800-pound ruby used in the Ruby Drop was built by Crabtree and his two brothers. The ruby is constructed of steel and plexiglass and is 7 feet tall and 7 feet in diameter. Over 1,500 red lights lit up the inside of the ruby.

“We actually built the ruby a few weeks before New Year’s that first year in a workshop behind the restaurant,” said Crabtree. “We pulled a lot of all-nighters to get it built. We might as well put up some beds in the workshop, but we were a lot younger back then so it easier to stay up that late.” 

The Crabtree’s use the same original ruby every year. The ruby’s lights have been upgraded and light sparks, moving lights and pyrotechnics have been added. 

“This year, we have a new surprise planned for under the ruby, but we will have to wait until midnight to see what it is,” said Crabtree.

According to Crabtree, the annual Ruby Drop has continued to grow attracting larger crowds each year for the huge block party welcoming in the New Year.

The celebration has something for everyone of all ages and is a free, family-oriented celebration. The event will be held rain or shine.

This year’s event will feature free carriage rides from Carolina Horse and Carriage down the streets of Franklin. The carriage rides are sponsored by the Franklin Tourism Development Authority and Franklin Tourism Development Committee. 

The New Year’s celebration will feature a DJ and local band the V-8’s. The band will provide live music following the 9:00 p.m. Ruby Drop. In addition, the Tiny Camper Photo Booth will be a part of the New Year’s event.

Crabtree was inspired to have a New Year’s Eve event in Franklin similar to the popular Possum Drop in Brasstown, North Carolina and came up with the idea to host the Ruby Drop. He thought having an event during the winter months when it’s slower would benefit the town and local businesses allowing Franklin to host the only big celebration for New Year’s Eve in western North Carolina and north Georgia.

“We started the Ruby Drop, the first year that my family owned Motor Company Grill,” said Crabtree.” “Drawing from my background in special events, I came up with the idea of the Ruby Drop. We were brand new at Motor Company Grill, and we really needed to generate more business.”

“We wanted to do something to attract more business to downtown and my brothers and I decided to do something big like the possum drop in a neighboring town which at the time was hugely attended,” he added. “We decided on the ruby because we wanted to incorporate something that meant something to Franklin. We chose the ruby as a nod to Franklin being recognized as the gem capital of the world.”

“It has been a lot of fun to host the Ruby Drop all these years,” said Crabtree. “We weren’t sure whether it would be an event that people would come to, but every year it seems to get bigger and bigger. We feel blessed to be able to continue it year after year. It is not a money maker, but it is something the downtown merchants and we like to do for the town.”

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