Ringing in the New Year, Temecula style

People skate on an ice rink at Town Square in front of Temecula City Hall during the city’s annual New Year’s Eve Grape Drop, Dec. 31. Shane Gibson photo

Hundreds packed Town Square for music, food and family-friendly fun as they waited for a cluster of brightly-lit grapes to descend from the top of city hall to ring in the new year.

The grapes were dropped twice during the New Year’s Eve Grape Drop, once at 9 p.m. to sync up with the ball drop at Times Square and once again when it was officially midnight on the West Coast.

The first drop brought many families with young children while the second brought a group of younger adults that had been partying in the nearby bars and clubs.

While many of the event’s visitors were from the Temecula area, some came from far away locations.

Fabrizio and Miriama Fernandes, Brazilian natives who are studying in San Diego, decided to visit Temecula because they were looking for a new place spend New Year’s Eve.

Fabrizio Fernandes said they had gone to some wineries, a wine bar and Old Town and that they had only just arrived outside city hall for the grape drop event.




“It was really cool,” he said. “It was a place that maybe we’re gonna come back soon.”

Leo and Aisling Barrera of Irvine brought their young daughter Katelyn to see the grape drop while other members of their family sat down and ate at a nearby restaurant.

The Barreras said they used to live in Temecula and they came out from Irvine to see the grape drop because they thought it would be the right environment to bring a child.

“A lot of places we can’t find somewhere that has a 9 o’clock New Years,” Aisling Barrera said. “Here it’s quiet and safe and small.”

Leo Barrera said he liked that Temecula was versatile enough to offer both family friendly and adult entertainment options.

“We used to go to the casinos and the wineries and then we had a baby and got to switch it around,” he said with a laugh.

This year’s iteration of the event offered music from the young performers of Resonate! Vocal Group as well as The Barn Stage Company performing songs from “Little Women, The Musical.”

Both children and children at heart could ice skate in a rink or slide down a gargantuan slide that was set up outside the city hall parking garage.

Visitors frequently traversed back and forth between the area outside city hall and some of the other open spots.

The back room of The Merc was packed with people as the Valley Winds Swing Band performed a variety of jazzy tunes. Rosa’s Cantina had a line nearly going out the door, as did the nearby Lorimar Winery tasting room.

Later in the evening the musical tone shifted to rock bands and cover bands.

The band Lifetime Rocker performed shortly before 9 p.m. performing such songs as the Chicago hit “25 or 6 to 4,” and Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk.”

Later in the evening guests could enjoy performances from blues band The Bayou Brothers or Huey Lewis & The News tribute band The Heart of Rock and Roll.

“Old Town is rocking tonight,” said city councilmember Maryann Edwards from the city hall balcony shortly before 9 p.m.

She told the audience that grapes were about 10 feet tall and weighed close to 1,000 pounds.

As the audience counted down the grapes were lowered onto the balcony and the lights were turned off, signifying the New Year on the East Coast.

Dozens of people grabbed their significant others and kissed or hugged in celebration of another year.

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