NEW YORK — That glittering ball in Times Square may be the best-known object dropping on New Year’s Eve, but it’s by no means the weirdest.
There’s stiff competition in that category: Everything from a fish to a shoe to a giant candy Peep will descend Saturday to welcome in 2017.
The tiny lakeside town of Port Clinton, Ohio, will celebrate the new year by dropping a 20-foot-long, 600-pound replica of a walleye fish. The annual Idaho potato drop in Boise will feature a massive lit-up “glowtato” to celebrate the state’s most famous products. In Lake Tahoe, Nevada, a brightly lit gondola is dropped at the Heavenly Mountain ski resort.
In Key West, Florida, four different things — including two humans — are lowered to welcome the new year. A giant conch shell is dropped at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a costumed “pirate wench” is lowered outside the Schooner Wharf Bar, a wedge of Key lime descends into a huge margarita glass at the Ocean Key House Resort, and of course in what is probably Key West’s most famous New Year’s Eve tradition, a large red high-heeled shoe carrying female impersonator Gary “Sushi” Marion is lowered outside the Bourbon Street Pub complex on Duval Street.
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, hosts a two-day family-friendly Peeps festival that includes the dropping of a 200-pound lit-up Peeps chick. Peeps manufacturer Just Born began operating in Bethlehem in the 1930s.
In Memphis, Tennessee, a lit-up guitar is dropped at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street. Raleigh, North Carolina, which calls itself the city of oaks, drops a giant acorn to welcome the new year. Atlanta hosts a peach drop, and New Orleans drops a fleur-de-lis.
The tradition of dropping a ball to mark a moment dates back to the 19th century, but it didn’t originate as a New Year’s Eve custom. “Time balls” were once displayed in harbors and lowered daily to signal a certain time of day so that ships could precisely set the chronometers they used for navigation. The New Year’s Eve tradition began in 1907 when a time ball was dropped as part of a public celebration hosted by The New York Times at its building in Times Square.
The Times Square ball has been redesigned a number of times over the decades. It was originally made of iron, wood and 25-watt lightbulbs. The ball that will drop Saturday night in the moments leading up to midnight is made from Waterford crystal triangles, illuminated by thousands of LED lights.