Rick Brenner held an umbrella above his fiancée, Denise Hunt, while they danced to Auld Lang Syne shortly after a giant shoe landed on the roof of a nearby church.

The Springettsbury Township couple, who plan to marry in the spring, were in Hallam early this morning to ring in the new year with a new tradition. While light rain fell, they gathered with hundreds of others to watch as an 8-foot, 125-pound papier-maché shoe was lowered via a crane at midnight onto the roof of an annex to Trinity United Church of Christ.

The new, New Year's Eve event, in honor of the nearby Haines Shoe House, corresponded with the drops planned elsewhere in York County of a white rose in York and pickle in Dillsburg, as well as the cigar raising in Red Lion.

Although the shoe drop site was technically located in the borough of Hallam, many natives of the area at the event insisted that the shoe represents the greater Hellam Township area.

"It's a first in the metropolis of Hellam," said Elona Stump of Hellam. She wore an orange rain poncho, stood beside her granddaughter, Amanda Stump, 21, beneath a bright pink umbrella and watched the shoe drop. "I think it's nice. The community needs it."

Nearby, Brittany Rudy of Hellam wore eyeglasses in the shape of "2010" and a glittery "Happy New Year" tiara. In addition to the new year, she said she was also celebrating her new son, Mason, who was born on Nov. 17.

Mason's dad, Kyle Ritz of Hellam, said his family owns Specialty Tree Service -- the company that provided the crane to hoist and lower the shoe.

Bill Conaway and Steve Dellinger, both members of Hallam’s Trinity United Church of Christ, put the finishing touches Monday on a replica of the Shoe
Bill Conaway and Steve Dellinger, both members of Hallam's Trinity United Church of Christ, put the finishing touches Monday on a replica of the Shoe House. The shoe was built in Dellinger's Hellam Township garage and was dropped on the church's roof as part of a New Year's Eve celebration. (Daily Record/Sunday News - Paul Kuehnel)

"I think this is great," he said of the event. "It's good to be a part of the community and help out."

Hellam residents Michael Mackley, 19, and his dad, Craig Mackley, typically spend New Year's Eve at home eating pizza and watching TV, they said.

But they ventured out late Thursday night to celebrate the holiday with a new tradition.

"This is a historical event in Hellam," Craig Mackley said. "I grew up around here. This is one of the first new things here in a long time."


Why let the shoe drop?

Tired of having to travel out-of-town for the holiday, Hellam Township resident Steve Dellinger decided to come up with a First Night-type event. The shoe is in honor of a township house that's literally built like a shoe, he said.

The dropping of that shoe was the first big New Year's Eve celebration the borough has had in about 25 years, Dellinger said. Several churches took part in the event, which included entertainment, food, music and worship services.

Trinity United Church of Christ and Faith United Methodist Church, both on East Market Street in the borough, offered the family-friendly attractions. The St. James Lutheran Church on West Market Street hosted a special worship service.

The shoe and event planning were done by members of the churches. Most of the shoe cobbling was done by Dellinger; his wife, Molly Dellinger; Bill Conaway; and his wife, Patti Conaway. It took them several weeks to build, papier-maché and paint the faux footwear.

A contractor by trade, Dellinger modeled the shoe after the shoe doghouse that's behind the township's historic Shoe House.

The Shoe House was built in 1948 by Mahlon N. Haines to advertise his shoe business. The house is closed now for winter.

Dellinger said they hope the shoe drop event will become a family tradition. They plan to store the shoe for next year and are hopeful barn mice won't nibble at the flour-based papier-maché.

Borough Mayor Paul McCleary said he welcomes the addition to town but said he could not take any credit for the planning.

--By Nichole Dobo

On the Web

Learn more about the Shoe House at its Web site, shoehouse.us.

By the numbers

1: papier-maché shoe

2 weeks: time needed to papier-maché the shoe

3: number of churches taking part in the event

8 feet: length of the shoe

25: years since Hallam has held a major New Year's Eve celebration

125: pounds of shoe to be dropped

Also of interest

· York's landmark size-48 Shoe House relaced, shined up.