While sitting with some friends at a Christmas party in late 2012, fourth-generation Idahoan Dylan Cline had the idea that would change how Boise celebrates New Year’s Eve forever.
“I was talking about the Times Square Ball Drop on television, and at the time there was that big hole in 8th and Main (streets) where they were building” the Zions Bank tower, Cline said. “There was a crane there so I thought, gosh, I’ve never left my house for New Year’s Eve because all that was available (in Boise) was drinking at bars, so I decided to have a big party, build a huge potato, and drop it from the crane Downtown.”
Cline went to KTVB and the president of the Idaho Potato Commission with his idea. They gave him advice to fine-tune his vision for a year.
The rest, as they say, is history.
After taking the necessary steps to get the event approved by the city of Boise, the first Idaho Potato Drop took place in 2013.
“Nobody had ever done that before in Downtown,” Cline said.
The potato attached to the crane is not real, of course. Cline, with the help of Sharolyn and Chris Schofield, made the first potato out of foam blocks, creating a 15-foot long, 10-foot tall Russet replica.
In 2015, the celebration moved from The Grove Plaza to the State Capitol steps. Cline would go on to introduce the potato lovers to a new model he built himself — the GlowTato.
“I’ve been working on this design for a couple years, and I wanted to build a potato that could be lit internally,” Cline said. “So essentially, you’d have to get a hard, clear material for the shell, and then in the inside build a light box and figure out how to make it work from 300 feet in the air. It was tricky.”
This year, partygoers will see the GlowTato ascend at 6 p.m. and drop at midnight from the Inland Crane, all while fireworks light up the sky.
There is much to do before the potato drops, as the New Year’s Eve celebration begins at 3 p.m.
Begin the evening with watching live sporting events, such as the USASA-sanctioned “Big-Air Rail Jam” sponsored by Inland Northwest Toyota Dealers. Take the kids tubing at Gateway Parks‘ “Tuber-Luge” public tubing hill, which will be bigger than last year’s. Watch live ice sculpting from the McCall Winter Carnival, along with a live wrestling match as the Wrestle Club battles for the “Potato Belt Championship.” Families can warm up in the Mountain America Credit Union Family Tent, where nonprofit vendor booths and activities will keep them entertained.
(The weather forecast calls for a high of 34 and a low of 15 on Monday, so warming up will be a necessity.)
Cline, who works as a touring musician and nonprofit advocate when he’s not organizing large-scale potato drops, will also play music this year. His band, Matt Hopper and the Roman Candles, toured with The Head and The Heart last summer.
There will also be six local mobile food and drink vendors, ranging from Big Daddy’s Meat Wagon to Off the Grid Pizza. And there will be a beer garden.
If you’re looking for a more intimate experience, try the VIP room. The all-new room will connect to the adjoining Saint Lawrence GridIron restaurant, offering hors d’oeuvres, festival cocktails and optional gourmet meals. Guests enjoy a 360-degree view of the event while having acoustic performances from Jeff Crosby, Matt Hopper and more. DJ Jettrokk, Casio Dreams and Lady Bizness will also be there to entertain guests. Each VIP member gets a raffle ticket to win big-ticket prizes. Visit idahopotatodrop.com to purchase.