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13 knockout alternatives to New Year’s at Times Square
Celebrate the new year with peaches, possums, and watermelons at these regional festivities.
A crowd of solidly sloshed revelers huddle together in the harsh winter air. As the final seconds of the year tick away into history, they turn their gaze upward into the dark sky. Shouting out the last 10 seconds of December, one by one, they erupt into wild applause as the time-honored symbol of New Year’s yet again drops:
A giant, brightly lit peach.
The partiers who have been awaiting the peach’s descent are obviously nowhere near the crowds that fill Times Square in New York City, where the Waterford Crystal ball garners national—and even worldwide—attention each Dec. 31. Instead, they’re in Atlanta, ringing in the next year of their lives in the capital city of peach-producing Georgia.
And they aren’t alone.
In fact, you may even be able to join them—virtually, of course.
We at the Daily Dot have put together a list of communities that celebrate New Year’s Eve just a bit differently. Thanks to the magic of YouTube, you can save yourself years of travel to see such events in the wintry elements and enjoy them in the comfort of your bedroom. What’s more, you don’t even need to wait for midnight on New Year’s Day to do it.
1) Atlanta, Ga.—The Peach Drop
Boasting the title of “largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Southeast,” Underground Atlanta, a downtown Atlanta neighborhood, has been drawing in revelers since 1989. When the clock strikes midnight, an electric peach that is 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide descends a 138-foot tower of lights.
2) Bangor, Maine—The Beach Ball Drop
While dazzling and impressive, the Times Square ball has a major drawback: it is not interactive. Its height atop One Times Square keeps it far from the thousands and thousands of people who gather together in the frigid air to see it drop.
In 2006, residents of Bangor, Maine, took it upon themselves to solve the interactivity issue.
At midnight on New Year’s Day, a giant beach ball festooned with lights is dropped from the roof of Paddy Murphy’s Pub in downtown Bangor into the expectant crowd. Revelers below spend the first few moments of each New Year batting it around, despite Maine’s decidedly un-beachlike temperatures each January.
3) Bethlehem, Penn.—The Peeps Chick Drop
Just 80 miles west of the action in New York City, residents of Bethlehem, Penn., appear to be ringing in the arrival of Easter rather than New Year’s Day. Each calendar year is welcomed by an 85-pound replica of the famous marshmallow Peeps candy (presumably because an Easter egg drop would prove too messy).
Just Born, the candy manufacturer that produces Peeps, is headquartered in Bethlehem. The Peeps Chick Drop completes a weekend full of family-friendly activities in the community—and occurs at 5:15PM, well ahead of younger guests’ bedtimes.
While the Peeps Chick Drop may not signal the arrival of midnight in Bethlehem, Penn., it will mark the year’s debut hour in the Eastern European Time Zone, including in Bethlehem’s namesake in the Middle East.
4) Carlisle, Penn.—The “Car”-lisle Drop
While indeed groan-inducing, the “Car”-lisle Drop in the central Pennsylvania town of the same name impressively lowers an actual IndyCar from the sky to usher in each New Year. The 2012-2013 celebration will mark the event’s 15th anniversary.
Unfortunately, only one car is lowered; two IndyCars do not race to the bottom in an effort to welcome 2013 first.
5) Easton, Md.—The Crab Drop
If their souvenirs are any indication, Maryland is a state that is proud of its crabs. One small community in the eastern portion of the state has worked that pride into its New Year’s celebrations.
When the clock strikes midnight, a large crab descends two poles into a sea of decidedly non-crabby revelers. While cooked blue crab is a delicacy in Easton and throughout Maryland, the New Year’s version is not formed into crab cakes or sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning afterward; its metal-and-papier-mache biology would not make it the tastiest of dishes.
6) Eastover, N.C.—The Flea Drop
As the first few notes of “Auld Lang Syne” begin to play, you and your fellow revelers look up at the midnight sky—and see a giant, 30-pound flea descending toward you.
While this sounds like a New Year’s Eve that would be witnessed in a 1950s science-fiction movie, it is actually a tradition in the small North Carolina town of Eastover. Descending a brightly lit numbered pole, the flea was chosen because part of the town was originally named Flea Hill (named for a flea infestation that had occurred in the community decades earlier).
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7) Flagstaff, Ariz.—The Pine Cone Drop
When one pictures Arizona, the item that immediately comes to mind is, naturally, the pine cone.
The mountain community of Flagstaff welcomes each Jan. 1 with the Pine Cone Drop. Adorned with lights, the metallic wreath staple drops from the town’s historic Weatherford Hotel. Begun in 1999 to coincide with both the hotel’s centennial and the year 2000, the Pine Cone drops not only at midnight, but also at 10PM to sync with New York’s celebration in the Eastern Time Zone.
8) Mobile, Ala.
—The MoonPie Drop
Every year, many people make the same tired resolution to get into shape come New Year’s Day. If they are truly serious about sticking to their plans, they might want to avoid Mobile, Ala., where each New Year is ushered in with a 12-foot-high, 600-pound MoonPie.
The electronic treat, modeled after the tasty staple of Southern U.S. cuisine, has been lowered from downtown Mobile’s RSA-BankTrust Building since New Year’s Eve 2008.
Dubbed MoonPie Over Mobile, the event has attracted more than 100,000 people to the city and is broadcast on local TV stations throughout the Central Time Zone.
9) Nashville, Tenn.
—The Music Note Drop
Tennessee’s largest city will welcome 2013 by dropping an object indicative of its nickname, Music City: a 15-foot-tall music note.
Nashville’s music note is a relative newcomer to the accompanying Bash on Broadway celebration in Nashville; it was preceded by an 80-foot guitar that was dropped each year until 2011.
It’s still unknown whether or not the dropping of the music note causes the din of the crowd to drop an octave.
10) Plymouth, Wis.
—The Big Cheese Drop
Wisconsin is a state renowned for its cheese, and its residents never forget that, not even on New Year’s Eve.
As the clock counts down to midnight, an 80-pound, illuminated wedge of cheese is lowered from one of the town’s ladder trucks. Unfortunately, there are not 80-gallon glasses of wine waiting at the bottom.
The tradition dates back to the 2007 New Year’s celebration.
11) Raleigh, N.C.
—The Acorn Drop
Residents of Raleigh, N.C., are quite familiar with falling acorns. After all, the city is dubbed the City of Oaks for its overabundance of oak trees. While most of the acorns that fall to the ground in Raleigh originate in these trees, one stands out from the rest.
The Big Acorn, a sculpture in Moore Square Park in the city’s downtown, is dropped each Dec. 31 to ring in the new year. The acorn, which weighs 1,200 pounds, is lowered from a crane to the delight of revelers and the confusion of squirrels.
12) Tallapoosa, Ga.
—The Possum Drop
If you ring in 2013 in Tallapoosa, Ga., you will probably be doing so by watching a possum fall from the sky.
Each year, the small Georgia community hosts the “largest possum drop ever.” This isn’t your run-of-the-mill, everyday possum drop that you may be used to in other areas, folks. This is the largest. Ever.
The tradition refers to Tallapoosa’s former name of Possum Snout, which we’re certain was taken 100 percent seriously on college applications and résumés. The event’s website stresses that the possum used in the spectacle is not real, but rather a large stuffed version named Spencer.
13) Vincennes, Ind.
—The Watermelon Drop
If you are the comedian Gallagher, perhaps your plans for New Year’s should include a trip to Vincennes, Ind.
As the final seconds of 2012 tick into history, a large watermelon, chosen to honor the region’s successful watermelon industry, is hoisted into the frigid late December sky. Once midnight strikes, the watermelon will open up and release 13 regularly-sized melons onto the ground, to the delight of partiers and the woe of local street cleaning crews. Simultaneously, fireworks are shot off to usher in a new year full of healthy watermelon crops.
Unfortunately, the giant watermelon itself does not fall to the ground.
Photo via chucka_nc/Flickr
Mike Fenn is a former contributor to the Daily Dot whose beats included Reddit, YouTube, and all things WTF. His work has also appeared in Forbes and News.com.au.