Tifton’s Gnat Drop returns for New Year’s countdown

Tifton’s Gnat Drop returns for New Year’s countdown
Published: Dec. 31, 2022 at 5:35 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 1, 2023 at 12:05 PM EST
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TIFTON, Ga. (WALB) - We’ve all done it before—swatted away those pesky gnats but have you watched one drop? That’s exactly what people did to bring in the new year.

Matt the Gnat is a bug that’s dropped every year in Tifton. The annual event started in 2018. After not having the gnat drop for two years because of COVID-19, Matt the Gnat is finally flying in to start the new year off with a buzz.

Matt the Gnat was inspired by the New York Ball Drop and the Atlanta Peach Drop.
Matt the Gnat was inspired by the New York Ball Drop and the Atlanta Peach Drop.(WALB)

“Our goal and dream is to be the Atlanta peach drop of South Georgia and North Florida and there’s no reason we can’t be,” said Lyn Burnett, Tifton resident.

Tift County commissioner Melissa Hughes created the gnat drop as a way to bring people together in an odd but funny way.

“You hear of a gnat drop; you may get a chuckle out of it. You may think it’s funny, you may think it’s silly. In this day in time, we need some laughter, we need something fun and with Tifton being the friendly city, why not have something that’s unique?” she said.

So why a gnat? Hughes said she considers gnats the welcoming committee of the south and what better way to welcome the new year than with a familiar face?

Melissa Hughes created Matt the Gnat in 2018.
Melissa Hughes created Matt the Gnat in 2018.(WALB)

“We know the gnat don’t look like this but I’m sure it brought a smile to their face and that’s what I want to do, bring smiles to people’s faces,” she said.

Rayvyn Rhaney, another Tifton resident, has been going to the gnat drop since it started and says it brings more excitement to her New Year’s celebration.

“I never thought that anything like this would be in my hometown. It just feels really cool that we get to do this every year,” Rhaney said.

The countdown to the new year happens while Matt the Gnat is dropped.
The countdown to the new year happens while Matt the Gnat is dropped.(WALB)

The gnat drop included live performances, local vendors and a showing of the Georgia game. The free event was hosted at the American Legion fairgrounds located at 312 U.S. Highway 82.