Push to get the 'Big Acorn' ready for First Night Raleigh

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It took 12 hours and plenty of elbow grease to clean the big acorn.

Artist Dave Benson spent Friday polishing Raleigh's famous acorn for the annual New Year's Eve bash.

Even though he made the sculpture himself 30 years ago and has been cleaning it every year since then, he said he felt some pressure this year.

His daughter has helped him in the past, but she was feeling a little under the weather, so he flew solo this year.

"She kind of upped the ante. She did a really good job polishing it. Better than I did," said Benson. "She set the bar a little too high for me so now I have to maintain it."

Thousands of people pack City Plaza every Dec. 31 to see Acorn Drop and watch the sky sparkle during the fireworks display.

First Night Raleigh is going into its 29th year. Artsplosure also plans to put on a grand event by installing an interactive exhibit in the newly renovated Moore Square, called the Astro Botanical Garden of Light.

"It is a larger than life illuminated garden that you can actually wander through," said Artsplosure program director Cameron Laws. "We're just excited to have it and we're really hoping people are going to come out."

Officials are working to make sure everyone stays safe with all the fun and festivities.

Two years ago, a downtown partygoer posed for a picture by the acorn not long before she was struck by a stray bullet. Someone fired a gunshot into the sky at the stroke of midnight.

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Raleigh Police urged people not to celebrate in the same way.

The department isn't getting into the specifics on its security plan, but attendees can expect a strong presence of officers Tuesday night.

"With their partnership, we really have a security plan in place for any scenario so we feel really good that we can gather the community and safely ring in 2020," said Laws.
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