Sure, thousands of people will jam themselves into New York City’s Times Square for the annual ball dropping to ring in the New Year. And millions will watch the event on television and thanking their lucky stars they’re not shivering in that crowd. But why be packed in Times Square like a sardine when you can enjoy the sight of a walleye sliding down a pole – and not a fishing pole.
That’s right, there are wacky alternatives to the ball drop throughout the country and one is Wylie the Walleye. For 15 years, Wylie the Walleye has been lowered on New Year’s Eve in Port Clinton, Ohio, to the delight of his fins – er, fans. About 10,000 people crowd into downtown Port Clinton to watch the 19-foot, 600-pound fiberglass Wylie make his descent into another new year.
If a giant walleye isn’t your angle, how about a giant watermelon in the winter sky on New Year’s Eve? The city of Vincennes, Indiana, has for the past few years been hoisting an 18-foot, 500-pound steel-and-foam melon 100 feet into the frigid air for thousands of spectators at its Riverfront Pavilion on the Wabash River. Who knows why? Once the fake melon reaches its pinnacle, it drops real melons to the ground below where they splatter for the crowd as fireworks explode overhead.
Well, there was of course the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. But journey to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, for New Year’s Eve and you’ll encounter perhaps a terrifying sight to some – an 85-pound fiberglass Peeps chick that descends to the cracking up crowd below. While some might think it’s somewhat of a yolk – er, joke – to have the Easter staple appear on New Year’s Eve, Bethlehem is the home of the Just Born company, which has manufactured Peeps for decades. Even in fowl — er, foul weather, thousands crowd into the town to watch the 5-foot-wide chick drop accompanied by fireworks eggsactly at midnight.
For a bigger chick, head south to Pensacola, Florida, for that city’s New Year’s Eve festival that is the Pensacola Pelican Drop Celebration. This pelican weighs about 500 pounds, stands 13 feet high and has a 17-foot wingspan. The bird, which is lighted and has 2,000 metal feathers, hovers 100 feet above the crowd before making its descent.
Head a little further south to Key West, Florida, and you can enjoy three different New Year’s Eve celebrations. Visitors and residents can observe a giant conch shell descend; a female pirate dropping from the mast of a tall ship; or Sushi, a female impersonator who drops to the ground in a giant high heeled shoe.
Finally, if you really want to go nuts on New Year’s Eve, you’ll need to head to Raleigh, North Carolina, for that city’s dropping of the Raleigh Acorn. Raleigh, which is also nicknamed the City of Oaks, has been dropping a 1,250 pound acorn since Dec. 31, 1992 onto its City Plaza. And, perhaps, even slightly nuttier is that the acorn drop is broadcast on local television in a split-screen. On the other half of the screen? The Times Square ball dropping.