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Raleigh Drops Giant Acorn With Lift From Southern Crane

Fri February 04, 2011 - Southeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Atlanta has its peach. Mt. Olive, N.C., has a pickle. New York has an apple. In Raleigh, N.C., the highlight of the New Year’s Eve celebration is an acorn descending from the sky. For the 20th straight year, Raleigh’s own Southern Crane helped the city of Oaks celebrate the new year by lowering the giant acorn made of 1,250 pounds of copper and steel.

Southern Crane has handled the honor every year since the inaugural First Night Raleigh, held Dec. 31, 1991. That initial request seemed a tad unusual, according to Earl Johnson III, president of Southern Crane. Two decades later the acorn has come to define Raleigh.

“When we first lowered the giant acorn, we weren’t sure if people would turn out to see it. But the crowd really got into it, reaching out to try and touch it,” Johnson said. “Celebrating New Year’s Eve in Raleigh has become a tradition for the entire Southern Crane staff.”

Made of copper and steel, Raleigh’s giant acorn is more than 10 ft. tall and is displayed in the city’s Moore Square throughout the year. It was created by sculptor David Benson to celebrate the city’s 1992 Bicentennial and Raleigh’s nickname as “The City of Oaks.”

“Southern Crane is an integral part of First Night Raleigh,” said Terri Dollar, program director, Artsplosure/First Night Raleigh. “Over the past 20 years, hundreds of thousands of First Night attendees have cheered at the lowering of the giant acorn — made possible by Southern Crane.”

Residents viewed the massive acorn being hoisted into place beginning on the morning of Dec. 31 and took part in First Night Raleigh as the acorn descended later that evening in Raleigh’s City Plaza.

“We enjoy being a key participant in this tradition. It supports the nonprofit Artsplosure and the city of Raleigh, bringing citizens downtown for a family- friendly celebration,” said Johnson.

Southern Crane is a comprehensive crane and rigging service provider, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Southern Industrial Constructors, one of the largest private employers in North Carolina. Southern Crane advocates nationally for industry safety standards and requires all its crane operators to be certified by the National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators. Founded in 1962 in Raleigh, N.C., Southern Industrial Constructors also has offices in Charlotte and Wilmington, N.C. and Columbia, S.C.

First Night Raleigh is presented by Artsplosure — The Raleigh Arts Festival Inc., a local nonprofit organization whose mission is to produce high-quality annual festivals that celebrate excellence in the performing and visual arts; to promote and bring recognition to national, regional and local artists; and to bring artists and the larger community together to improve the quality of life and cultural environment. Since its first festival in April 1980, Artsplosure has presented thousands of established and emerging artists whose works span across many disciplines and art forms.

For complete information about First Night Raleigh activities and the annual acorn drop, visit

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