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Tangerine Drop – it’s back!

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The Brooksville Tangerine Drop started in 2001 as a way to celebrate Hernando’s historic tangerine industry. Oranges and more specifically tangerines were one of the major industries in the area. About a half century ago almost all the prominent citizens also owned orange groves. Bankers, lawyers, and doctors owned groves.

Wayne Vutech was a leader in a group that wanted to create an event which highlighted the tangerine. They decided that they would drop a tangerine on New Year’s Eve. The logistics of how to accomplish this seemed daunting, so rather than sliding a ball down a pole they decided to winch down a weather balloon.

Wayne looked for where he could purchase a weather balloon for the event. He wound up locating a weather balloon for sale in North Carolina. He drove up to North Carolina and attempted to locate the place by the directions he had been given. He was driving across a farm for what seemed to Wayne to be an excessive amount of time when he finally managed to locate and purchase the weather balloon.

He brought the weather balloon back to Brooksville and they had the first Tangerine Drop. In 2009 they paused the event, because they were having difficulty getting volunteers. That was the year that dynamic and long time volunteer Julia Jenkins had to stop because of her health.

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The tangerine drop grew from the original event with the weather balloon to an eight foot fiberglass tangerine dropped down a metal pipe. There were several incarnations of the fiberglass tangerine with the last one being the one that is stored at the shed at the Jerome Brown Community Center.

The New Year’s Eve Tangerine Drop will be returning this year after an 11 year hiatus.

Tampa Channel 8 News, Fox News, Cape Cod Times, Wikipedia, Jacksonville’s First Coast News, NBC News along with a whole host of other media list Brooksville’s Tangerine drop among their list of interesting things dropped to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

The Tangerine Drop also brings a piece of Hernando’s history to the forefront. Many of the recent residents have no idea of the importance that the orange Industry played in this county. Twenty five years ago the fragrant smell of drying orange peels hung heavily over downtown Brooksville. Years before that everyone had a grove. The local lawyers, doctors, and bankers all had a grove or a few. 

Julia Janette Jinkins was a major contributor to this event and passed away Thursday, June 6, 2019. Bring back an event that she was passionate about and helped to create would be a wonderful way to celebrate her legacy.

The eight foot fiberglass tangerine in the storage behind Jerome Brown Community Center needs to be painted and some of the piping that it slides down is missing. It will be necessary to refabricate some of the piping.  

The New Year’s Eve Tangerine Drop event is planned to last from 9pm to midnight. It will be a family friendly event and will be held by the Mining Association behind Bud McKethan Park.  Updates will be provided weekly until the event is held.  

Do you have photos of the tangerine drop?  Please share them with us! Email [email protected].

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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