I remember when I was a child. I would get all psyched up about staying up until midnight on New Year’s Eve as soon as Christmas Day was over. I couldn’t wait to sit in front of the tele and watch the gleaming, glittering ball drop in Times Square. I don’t know if it was the build-up of excitement for nearly a week or just being elated at the thought of a new year (and a new date to remember to write down!), but I can count on one hand the amount of times that I actually stayed awake until 12:00am.
I began researching the history of ball-dropping ceremonies throughout the United States and Canada and came across a ton of celebrations that enjoy New Year’s Eve festivities in their own way including the dropping and raising of giant replica food items and even a live rodent. I love the thought of fun, unique ways to ring in the new year, and I’ve compiled a list of 20 of my favorites.
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Raleigh, North Carolina
Who needs a bright, shiny crystal ball when you’ve got a 900 pound acorn? The City of Oaks has rung in the new year since 1992 with a steel and cooper acorn designed by sculptor and metalsmith David Benson. A Raleigh resident, Benson created the metal work of art 250 times the size of an actual acorn.
What’s a new year’s eve celebration without a giant chocolate kiss? Hershey, Pennsylvania, keeps with the decadent theme and raises a giant Hershey kiss replica to ring in the new year.
Pittsburgh has completely changed its feel from the steel city to one of the U.S.’s finest and family-friendly cities. The city prides itself on its “greenness” and First Night Pittsburgh goes right along with the eco-friendly status by dropping a half-ton ball made of recycled aluminum and plastic Coca Cola bottles.
Panama City Beach, Florida
Every year, Panama City adds to its New Year’s Eve festivities by dropping an 800-pound beach ball at the stroke of midnight. Earlier in the night, a family-friendly style celebration with fireworks and a kids’ beach ball drop give families a reason to hang on the beautiful, sandy beaches.
You can literally watch a chunk of coal turn into a diamond in Shamokin, Pennsylvania! The small town gets festive with a tribute to its coal industry with a fireworks display and a dj for the family-friendly event.
New Orleans, Louisiana
Taking a cue from its French roots, New Orleans hosts a fleur-de-lis drop from Jax Brewery‘s roof top. Fireworks from the Mississippi River
I love stale peeps as much as the next guy, and a 4 1/2 feet tall, 85- pound yellow peep dropped with the help of a crane is Bethlehem, Pennsylvania‘s salute to the tasty marshmallow treat. PEEPFEST lasts for two days and includes live entertainment, a hockey shootout compliments of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and of course, all the Peeps you can handle.
Allentown, Pennsylvania was responsible for hiding the Liberty Bell from the British during The Revolutionary War and to commemorate the event the city drops a 34-inch tall bell at midnight. The bell can be viewed from 8pm on December 31st until drop time and the city encourages local churches to ring their bells during the drop.
Brasstown, North Carolina
Brasstown, North Carolina, has taken some heat for its annual Possum Drop. Clay’s corner is the spot for the drop, and a live opossum is raised into the air inside of a plexiglass pyramid and slowly lowered during the New Year’s Eve ceremony. The unharmed animal is then released and allowed to head back to its home. (As this article went to press, The owner of Clay’s Corner made an agreement with PETA and will not be dropping a live opossum this year!)
Niagara Falls, New York
Head to Niagara Falls, New York and you’ll have the opportunity to see a 10-foot Gibson guitar be dropped from the Hard Rock Cafe. The guitar drops 120 feet and the festivities include a free outdoor concert.
Krumpe’s Famous Donuts gets the spotlight in Hagerstown, Maryland. A giant donut is lowered in Hagerstown City Square and the generous shop hands our free donuts to spectators.
The Little Apple New Year’s Eve bash is in Manhattan, Kansas. An homage to its big sis on the east coast, the bash draws over 10,000 folks and a laser light show, DJ ,and even miss Kansas will be partying like it’s 2015.
The U.S.’s first sardine cannery was in Eastport, Maine, and to commemorate the fishy business the city drops an 8-foot scale model of an Atlantic herring. Folks that witness the sardine drop like to give it a kiss for good luck in the coming year.
Savannah has a ball on New Year’s Eve by raising a six-foot tall takeaway cup made of steel and plastic. The new tradition is in honor of Savannah’s liquor law that allows residents to drink in the streets. Up the Cup is a fun, adult event and draws loads of guests to the Savannah Waterfront area.
The largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Southeast, Atlanta’s annual Peach Drop celebrates what else- peaches! The carnival-style family-friendly party lasts for 16 hours and includes the descent of an 800-pound peach. After the drop, fireworks help ring in the new year.
Miami, Florida & Orange County, Florida
Oranges are popular items to drop in both Miami, Florida, and Orange County, California. Big Orange is Miami’s version of the Big Apple revelry where a 35-foot neon orange decked out in shades drops at the stroke of midnight. Orange County, Florida also drops a giant orange in Downtown Orlando near Church Street.
The “Big Cheese” drops exactly at midnight in Plymouth, Wisconsin. A giant cheese wedge is dropped from a crane and gives residents another reason to adore the tasty food.
St. Georges, Bermuda
The traditional onion drop takes place in Hamilton’s Old Town followed by a laser show. A giant onion decked out in lights slowly drops as fans ring in the new year. Why an onion? Bermuda was known as the ‘onion patch’ in the 1800’s compliments of the enormous amount of them imported into the U.S.
Eastport, Maine actually has two New Year’s Eve drops, and a giant red maple leaf is lowered at midnight Atlantic time in honor of the Canadian New Year.
Do you have an unusual New Year’s Eve ceremony in your neck of the woods? Please tell me about it in the comments!