Many of us have heard about the New Year’s ball dropping at Times Square in New York, we have seen videos of the fireworks over Boston Harbor and Las Vegas, but how many have seen the Sardine or Bologna drop in Maine and Pennsylvania or the MoonPie drop in Alabama?
Here are 10 of the top quirkiest or goofiest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the United States as researched by TripAdvisor. From the windswept Eastern seaboard to the balmy shores of Key West, these free events provide extraordinary entertainment to ring in 2012.
1. The Maine Event – Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop, Eastport , Maine
Home to the first sardine cannery in the U.S., Eastport has celebrated the industry since 2005 by dropping an eight-foot long, 30-pound sardine made from wood and acrylic at 11 p.m. Eastern Time. After the sardine plunges from the third-story window of The Tides Institute, revelers rush to give the fish a salty smooch in the belief this will bring good luck in the coming year. The festivities don’t end there; at midnight, a four-foot wide Maple Leaf is dropped, to honor Maine’s northern Canadian neighbors.
2. Mammal Madness – Possum Drop, Brasstown , North Carolina
Brasstown will celebrate its title of “Possum Capital of the World” for the 18th year, with two fun-filled hours of activities. Local men resplendent in feminine attire will compete for the coveted title of “Miss Possum Queen”, while revelers can soak up live music and tasty treats in anticipation of the lowering of a triangular, plexiglass box containing a prized possum. Once the crowd clears, the nocturnal mammal – unscathed from its public appearance – is given a midnight snack and released in to the night.
3. Savory Soiree – Bologna Drop, Lebanon , Pennsylvania
As the clock strikes midnight, a 12-foot long loaf of bologna, weighing 200 pounds, swallows the attention of New Year’s revelers as it is lowered to the ground from a crane service. Following its descent to Earth, the salty sandwich staple will be donated and devoured by a local charity. This annual fête is held at the corner of Ninth and Cumberland Streets and includes toe-tapping tunes, complimentary hot beverages, and festive First Night fun.
4. Pest-acular Party – Wooden Flea Drop, Eastover, North Carolina
Until the 1920s, Eastover was known as Flea Hill, due to a pandemic of the pesky insects throughout town. In honor of its former wretched “residents,” the town will ring in 2012 by dropping a 30-pound flea for the second consecutive year. Constructed from fabric, foam, wire and wood, revelers are in no danger of being bitten by the oversize bug as they partake in the family-friendly celebrations, which include a bonfire, refreshments, and old-fashioned fun.
5. Trifecta of Fun – “Sushi” Drag Queen Drop, Key West , Florida
The isle of Key West will be brimming with holiday cheer as it hosts three fun-filled festivities. Travelers can ring in 2012 at The Bourbon Street Pub, where legendary drag queen “Sushi” is lowered to the ground, while seated in a giant, glossy red shoe. Celebrations will also be held at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where a six-foot tall Styrofoam conch shell is lowered into a sea of revelers – while a “pirate wench” will be dropped from the mast of an old wooden ship at Schooner Wharf Bar, on nearby Williams Street.
6. Marshmallow Madness – MoonPie Drop, Mobile , Alabama
Home of America’s first Mardi Gras celebration, Mobile celebrates the famous “throw” of MoonPies to masked Mardi Gras revelers by dropping a 12-foot electronic MoonPie from a height of 34 stories. Residents consume more than four million MoonPies annually, hence adopting the mouthwatering marshmallow treat as the town’s informal emblem and even paying homage to it as the clock strikes midnight. Events begin at 7:30 p.m. with a Mardi-Gras style parade, featuring floats, live music and more.
7. Festive Fromage – Cheese Drop, Plymouth , Wisconsin
Cheese lovers can satisfy their cravings at Plymouth, Wisconsin’s annual “New Year’s Cheese” drop, which pays homage to the local dairy industry. This year will mark the fifth annual dropping of the 80-pound Styrofoam chunk of cheese from a 100-foot ladder truck. Painted and decorated by a local artist, the star of the show is guaranteed to offer flavorsome fun, rounded off with art, games, and complimentary refreshments as hundreds gather to welcome the New Year.
8. Groovin’ in the Gulf – Pelican Drop, Pensacola , Florida
The streets of Pensacola will be flocking with fun and games in honor of the New Year with three stages of live entertainment. At 8 p.m., a “Bubble Stomp” will invite children to jump and jive across a vast expanse of bubbly mailing wrap, to mimic the clamor of fireworks – before the real star of the show, a giant, 14-foot pelican, makes its 100-foot descent at midnight. Celebrations will conclude with a dazzling display of fireworks and colorful confetti.
9. Fruity Fun – Watermelon Drop, Vincennes , Indiana
For the fourth year, Vincennes’ Watermelon Drop will celebrate the local melon-growing industry along with the start of the New Year. Thousands of spectators – many of whom are dressed as the waterlogged fruit – gather to watch the 18-foot, 500-pound watermelon drop 100-feet onto a “splatform.” The man-made melon, crafted from steel and foam, also releases a dozen locally grown watermelons to signal the beginning of a tasty New Year.
10. Midwest Mayhem – Little Apple Drop, Manhattan , Kansas
For folks who are not able to make it to New York City, Manhattan, Kansas brings the spirit of Times Square to the Midwest. Thousands of revelers gather to join the festivities, which begin at 10 p.m. with a laser light show, accompanied by live music from local artists and a deejay. At the stroke of midnight, a rotund ruby apple, made from aluminum and glass, will shimmy its way to the ground for the ninth consecutive year, as fireworks illuminate the sky.
“These ten quirky drops offer an array of unusual ways to ring in the New Year, and will ensure that 2012 gets off with a bang for those who gather to enjoy the unconventional celebrations,” said Karen Drake, senior director of communications for TripAdvisor.
Photo: Via TripAdvisor — Key West’s drag queen drop ranks among TripAdvisor’s quirkiest New Year’s Eve celebrations. By Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau