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6 Other Things Dropped on New Year's Eve

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The most famous New Year's Eve “drop” is the 11,875-pound icosahedral geodesic sphere that descends the flag pole at One Times Square in Manhattan. But New York isn’t the only place where objects are dropped on New Year’s Eve (and no, we’re not counting your drunken uncle’s trousers in this list). Here’s what folks elsewhere around these United States will be watching as they count down the remaining seconds of 2010:

1. Georgia’s Peach

Atlanta’s Peach Drop draws about 100,000 people downtown every year, while several million more watch it from the comfort of home via the America One television network. The 800 lb. peach, which is repainted and refurbished every year, is made from Fiberglas and foam, the same materials used to manufacture most commercial surfboards.

2. The Buffalo Ball

Buffalo, New York, has been dropping its own ball since 1988. Accompanied by a massive fireworks display, the ball falls from the top of the Iskalo Electric Tower on Washington Street in downtown Buffalo. Last year’s event was almost canceled due to the economy and the ethics of a cash-strapped city spending the $40,000 necessary for security and sanitation crews, but local businesses opened their wallets and the show went on as scheduled. Unlike its sister in Times Square, the Buffalo Ball takes a full 58 seconds to descend, which helps to build the crowd tension to fever pitch once the final 10 second countdown begins.

3. Marsupial Moment

To some of us, they are pointy-nosed sharp-toothed nuisances who nest in our garages and are a step-cousin once removed from a rat. But to the residents of Brasstown, North Carolina, the opossum is a New Year’s Eve icon. The tradition started in 1990 when Clay Logan, owner of the Citgo station on Greasy Creek Road (honest!) in this small Appalachian town said (in that true “can-do” American spirit), “If New York City can drop a big ball on New Year’s Eve, why can’t we drop a ‘possum?”

So each year around November 30, Mr. Logan captures a live opossum in a DNR-approved trap and feeds it top-quality cat food until New Year’s Eve, when he transfers the ‘possum to a Plexiglas box, which he lowers via rope from the roof of his gas station just seconds prior to midnight. The last seconds of the year are counted down with appropriate ceremony by Logan and the assembled crowd of hundreds as the opossum descends to the ground. He is then released back into the wild, perhaps a bit confused by his brush with celebrity.

Of course, any occasion involving a live animal is bound to get noticed by PETA sooner or later, so in recent years Mr. Logan has obtained both state and federal permits for his ‘possum drop, and all concerned authorities have observed, inspected and agreed that the little varmint was treated humanely.

4. Peep Show


Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s New Year’s Eve tradition is fairly young, just like the 25 lb. illuminated Fiberglas baby Peep they’ve been lowering from a crane since 2005. If a Peep seems more in keeping with Easter, keep in mind that Just Born Inc., the company that makes the confection, is headquartered in Bethlehem and is one of the city’s major employers outside of the health care industry. A freshly-emerged baby chick is certainly a happier and more optimistic symbol of all things new than, say, a papier-mâché aspirin.

5. Reelin’ in the Year

There is always something fishy going on in Port Clinton, Ohio, the Walleye Capital of the World. And the town has been packed to the gills every New Year’s Eve since 1996, when Wylie the 20-foot, 600-pound Fiberglas walleye (constructed by a local taxidermist) was first lowered at the stroke of midnight. The festival includes everything from walleye sandwiches to walleye wine to walleye popcorn on sale for those willing to shell out a fin or less.

6. From Olive Us in Oklahoma

The small northern Oklahoma city of Bartlesville is home to the 221 foot high Price Tower, the only realized skyscraper designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. And it is from the top of this building that a giant olive is lowered into a martini glass to ring in the New Year. Although the public is invited gather outside to watch the actual Olive descent for free, the overall indoor celebration is definitely upscale, with a five-course dinner served including prime rib, Maine lobster, grilled Alaskan halibut, blackened Ahi tuna Caesar salad, a selection of gourmet cheeses and fine champagne. Sounds like the type of crowd that prefers not to be shaken or stirred.
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Anything interesting being dropped at midnight in your neck of the woods?

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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