New Year's Eve traditions take local twists with unique ball drops
Every year as the clock nears midnight on Dec. 31, the eyes of the world turn to the dazzling lights and bustling energy of Times Square. But Americans in other cities have adapted the tradition with a local spin, dropping (or raising) objects closer the home, from a MoonPie to a giant watermelon.
Ever wonder why we drop the ball -- or other objects -- to welcome the New Year? Read about the history behind this wholly American tradition
The MoonPie Drop
Mobile, Ala., is home of America’s first Mardi Gras celebrations, including long parades with floats, off which masqueraders have thrown moon pies since 1952.
MoonPies aren’t traditional pies. Moon pies are made up of marshmallow creme sandwiched between chocolate graham cookie crusts. They were originally created by the Chattanooga Bakery, when a bakery salesman wanted to create something “solid and filling” for local coal miners on their short lunch breaks.
They quickly became known throughout the South as a “working man’s lunch.”
Mobile residents and tourists consume more than 4 million MoonPies annually. Photo: Adam Lederer/Flickr
The Puck Drop
In their first New Year’s Eve drop, Ann Arbor will celebrate with a 10-ft hockey puck drop in anticipation of 2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs on Jan. 1.
Ann Arborites hope to break the world record for highest attended outdoor hockey game. The game will be held outdoors at University of Michigan’s football stadium (known as “The Big House”), which holds 109,901. Photo: METAL, LLC
The Guitar Drop
This year’s guitar drop in Memphis comes with a new guitar to celebrate 60 years of rock ‘n’ roll.
The 10- foot guitar is engraved with the words “That’s All Right” in honor of Elvis Presley’s first commercially released single and the gold tint is a subtle nod to the King’s more than 150 songs and albums that have been certified gold. Photo: Hard Rock Cafe Memphis
The Big Orange Rise
In Miami, the “Big Orange” doesn’t drop. It rises. Beginning at 6 p.m., the orange begins it 400-ft ascent over Bayfront Park.
The event was originally created in order to encourage people to stay downtown after the parade for the Orange Bowl.
Though you may think that the Orange’s name is “Mr. Neon,” that’s actually the signature of the artist who designed and built the sculpture. Photo: Courtesy of Bayfront Park
The Sardine Drop
Once a hub for the sardine industry, the most eastern city in the U.S. pays tribute to its past. The last sardine factory closed in 1982, but residents gather at the Tides Institute in downtown Eastport, Maine, to drop a sardine at midnight.
The tradition began in 2002 as a way to re-energize a downtown that had seen better days. Unlike some cities’ glitzy fanfare, Eastport has deliberately kept their celebrations low-budget. A volunteer brass band joins up just for the occasion.
Eastport also drops a maple leaf at 11 p.m. in honor of their close Canadian neighbors, whose New Year comes one hour earlier. Photo: Leslie Bowman
The Pinecone Drop
In Flagstaff, Ariz., a 70-pound, 7-foot lighted pinecone drops from the top of the Weatherford Hotel.
The Great Pinecone Drop was first introduced by the Weatherford Hotel to ring in new millennium and to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the hotel, which opened on Jan. 1, 1900. Photo: Weatherford Hotel
The Peach Drop
At 8 feet tall and 8 feet wide, the peach will drop in downtown Atlanta this year for the 25th time.
Georgia farmers produce 130 million pounds of the official state fruit, of which more than 40 different varieties are grown. Photo: Underground Atlanta
The Watermelon(s) Drop
The 6th Annual Watermelon Drop in Vincennes, Ind., includes both a rise and a fall. An 18-foot sculpture of a watermelon is lifted up, but at midnight the bottom opens up to drop an unusual payload --- 14 real watermelons, grown by local farmers.
“Where else can you watch a 500-pound watermelon rise high in the sky as midnight approaches, culminating in 14 watermelons dropped on our platform at the stroke of midnight --- including fireworks? There really is no better way to ring in the New Year,” Rick Linenburg, chairman of the drop's planning committee, said.
In addition to New Year’s Eve, the watermelon makes appearances during Independence Day and Christmas parades. Photo: National Watermelon Drop committee