25 Odd Items Dropped for New Year's Eve Celebrations

Don’t live anywhere near New York City but still desperate to see something—anything—drop during the countdown to 2018?

We can help. (Well, we can help some of you. Some of you might have to go on a road trip.) Check out these places that have put their own twists on the rather odd tradition of hoisting a giant object up in the air to celebrate the beginning of a new year.

1. A GIANT PEEP // BETHLEHEM, PENNSYLVANIA

Giant Peep being dropped at midnight.
NEPA Scene, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Peeps’s parent company, Just Born, calls the eastern Pennsylvania town home, which is why Bethlehem drops a 4.5-foot tall, 85-pound, illuminated Peep to mark the new year. Though Peeps come in shapes to suit every holiday these days, the drop is done with a traditional chick that flashes different colors at midnight.

2. AN OVERSIZED FLEA // EASTOVER, NORTH CAROLINA

Cartoon drawing of a flea.
iStock

Why the town would create a 3-foot-tall, 30-pound ceramic flea is a real head scratcher—unless you know that the town was once known as Flea Hill.

3. A MOONPIE // MOBILE, ALABAMA

MoonPie launch site.
mobile_gnome, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Why a MoonPie? According to PR Newswire, the tasty snack cake is the “favored throw” at the Mardi Gras parade (never mind that whole bead thing), which originated in Mobile. Sadly, the 600-pound Moon Pie is electronic, not edible.

4. A REAL (DEAD) CARP // PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, WISCONSIN

Illustration of a carp.
iStock

Most carp don’t see 15 seconds of fame, let alone 15 minutes. But every year in Prairie du Chien, Lucky the Carp is the center of attention when he’s lowered onto a throne to celebrate the new year. It’s the culmination of a week of activities, including hanging carp ornaments on a pine tree, the Carp Plunge (Prairie du Chien's version of a Polar Bear Plunge) and busting open a carp piñata. As far as we know, the piñata contains candy, not carp.

5. AN OLIVE // BARTLESVILLE, OKLAHOMA

Two martini glasses with olives.
iStock

The brightly lit olive descends from the top of Price Tower, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building, and falls neatly into an oversized martini glass.

6. A BEACH BALL // PANAMA CITY BEACH, FLORIDA

Oversized, decorative beach ball.
Brent Moore, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Paying homage to the tourist industry that keeps the town hopping, Panama City Beach drops an 800-pound beach ball at midnight. Those who prefer beach balls of the non-deadly variety can attend the children’s drop at 8:30 p.m., where more than 10,000 inflatable balls are released from overhead nets.

7. A SARDINE // EASTPORT, MAINE

Statue of a fisherman in Eastport, Maine.
Chris M. Morris, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The area has sardine fishing and canning roots, but Eastport also drops a Maple Leaf as a friendly gesture to their Canadian neighbors across the bay.

8. A WRENCH // MECHANICSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA

A wrench
iStock

Get it? Mechanicsburg?

9. A DUCK DECOY // HAVRE DE GRACE, MARYLAND

Duck decoy.
iStock

As home to both a Pat Vincenti Duck Decoy store and the Duck Decoy Museum, it makes perfect sense that Havre de Grace would drop a glowing duck decoy on New Year's Eve.

10. A PEACH // ATLANTA, GEORGIA

Atlanta's peach drop.
chrisjtse, Flickr // CC BY-ND 2.0

Go figure. If you prefer your crowd of revelers to be large on New Year's Eve, Atlanta is the place to be: the Peach Drop is the largest New Year's Eve celebration in the southeast.

11. A PINECONE // FLAGSTAFF, ARIZONA

The pinecone drop in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Deborah Lee Soltesz, Flickr // Public Domain

In case you’re missing the connection, here’s a bit of trivia for you: Flagstaff sits in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine forests in the world. And the town has come a long way from the garbage can with pinecones glued on it that was used during the drop's inaugural year in 1999—see for yourself:

12. AN APPLE // MANHATTAN, KANSAS

Paying homage to their “Little Apple” nickname, nearly 10,000 residents and visitors gather every year to watch the city drop a brightly-lit Red Delicious. 

13. A CHUNK OF CHEESE // PLYMOUTH, WISCONSIN

Two wedges of cheese.
Susie Wyshak, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

It's no doubt got some competition, but Plymouth proudly proclaims itself the Cheese Capital of the World, which is why it drops a large chunk of Sartori cheese to welcome the new year. 

14. A DRAG QUEEN IN A RED HIGH HEEL // KEY WEST, FLORIDA

Drag queen drop in Key West.
sandwich, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Her name is Sushi (the drag queen, not the stiletto). But Sushi is just one of the many midnight drop options in Key West: They also drop a 6-foot conch shell at Sloppy Joe's and a pirate wench at the Schooner Wharf Bar.

15. 200 POUNDS OF BOLOGNA // LEBANON, PENNSYLVANIA

Lebanon bologna in a deli.
NatalieMaynor, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

If you're a cured meat connoisseur, you know that Lebanon bologna is kind of a big deal.

16. MARSHALL THE MUSKRAT // PRINCESS ANNE, MARYLAND

A photo of a muskrat
iStock

As if dropping a giant rodent wasn’t unique enough, Princess Anne has decked the stuffed semiaquatic rodent out in a top hat and bow tie. No, Princess Anne isn’t the hometown of the Captain and Tennille; the humble muskrat has been a target for trappers in the area since humans first inhabited it.

17. A PICKLE // MT. OLIVE, NORTH CAROLINA

Photo of a pickle
iStock

If you love briny cucumbers, you'll appreciate the 3-foot pickle that drops down the flagpole at 7 p.m. EST. 

18. AN ACORN // RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA

Golden acorn on a black background
iStock

It would take a Godzilla-like squirrel to carry away this 10-foot-tall nut made of 1250 pounds of copper and steel, which was created by sculptor David Benson to celebrate the City of Oaks.

19. A POTATO // BOISE, IDAHO

A photo of a potato
iStock

This year will be Boise's fifth year dropping a giant spud.

20. A KEY // FREDERICK, MARYLAND

Photo of an antique key
iStock

In 2012, the city of Frederick began the tradition of dropping a 5-foot by 2.5-foot wooden key from a suspension bridge. Why a key? To honor one of its most famous sons, of course—The Star-Spangled Banner lyricist Francis Scott Key.

21. A BUNCH OF GRAPES // TEMECULA, CALIFORNIA

A bunch of grapes
iStock

There's more than one way to toast the new year. Temecula, which is in the heart of California Wine Country, does it with a 5-foot-by-8-foot bunch of grapes made of 36 illuminated spheres and 48 sequined balls.

22. A MUSIC NOTE // NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

A golden musical note
iStock

The Music Note dropped at midnight in Nashville is a nod to the town's "Music City" nickname.

23. A HOG // FAYETTEVILLE, ARKANSAS

Photo of a hog
iStock

"Last Night Fayetteville" is considered one of the top 10 New Year's Eve celebrations in the U.S.—and part of that accolade is due to the Hog Drop. Made with more than 1000 individually controlled LED lights, this oinker took more than 100 hours to create. Wilbur, eat your heart out—this is definitely Some Pig.

24. AN ORANGE WEARING SUNGLASSES // MIAMI, FLORIDA

Workers watch as the Big Orange, a New Year's time ball, is prepared to be raised onto the side of the Hotel InterContinental
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What goes up, stays up ... at least when it comes to these objects, which are raised instead of dropped. "Big Orange" is a 35-foot neon orange that climbs 400 feet up the side of the InterContinental Hotel in Miami. And if that's not enough for you, there's also Pitbull.

25. A WATERMELON BALL // VINCENNES, INDIANA

A watermelon in a garden
iStock

When it gets to the top, the ball opens to release 12 real watermelons, making a mess that would make Gallagher proud in the splash zone below.

A Finnish Tourism Company Is Hiring Professional Christmas Elves

iStock.com/kali9
iStock.com/kali9

Finland isn't quite the North Pole, but it will be home to a team of gainfully employed Christmas elves this holiday season. As Travel + Leisure reports, the Scandinavian country's Lapland Safaris is looking for elves to get guests into the holiday spirit.

Lapland Safaris is a tourism company that organizes activities like snowmobiling, Northern Lights-gazing, skiing, and ice-fishing. The elf employees will be responsible for leading guests to their buses and conveying important information, all while spreading holiday cheer. The job listing reads, "An Elf is at the same time an entertainer, a guide, and a mythical creature of Christmas."

Each Lapland Safari elf will receive training through Arctic Hospitality Academy prior to starting the job. There, they will learn "the required elfing and communication skills." Training will be conducted in English, but candidates' knowledge of French, Spanish, or German is a plus.

To apply, aspiring elves can fill out and submit this form through Lapland Safaris's website. The gig lasts from November 2018 to the beginning of next year, with employees having the option to work at any of the company's Finnish destinations (Santa's workshop is unfortunately not included on the list).

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

Aaugh! 10 Facts About It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Lee Mendelson hadn’t planned on a career in animation. But when television sponsors saw the filmmaker’s documentary about cartoonist Charles Schulz, they asked if the two could team up to produce a Christmas special based on Schulz’s Peanuts strip. The result, A Charlie Brown Christmas, was seen by roughly half of all households watching television during its premiere on CBS on December 9, 1965.

Mendelson went on to produce other Peanuts primetime specials, but 1966’s It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown remains one of the most endearing. As you prepare annual sympathy for poor ol' Chuck (“I got a rock”), check out some facts about naked composers, vomiting voice actors, and CBS’s bizarre ultimatum.

1. THE FUTURE OF ANIMATED PEANUTS SPECIALS DEPENDED ON IT.  


Warner Home Video

Mendelson and animator Bill Melendez had very high aspirations for A Charlie Brown Christmas. When they screened it prior to its premiere, however, they felt it didn’t live up to its potential—and CBS agreed. The network said it was the last Peanuts special they would buy. But after it delivered huge ratings, CBS changed their mind and asked for more. When the two delivered another hit—the baseball-themed Charlie Brown All-Stars—they thought they had earned the network’s confidence.

Instead, CBS told them they needed a special that could run every year, like A Charlie Brown Christmas. If Mendelson couldn’t provide it, they told him they might not pick up an option for a fourth show. Despite Schulz and his collaborators being annoyed by the network's abrasive attitude, they hammered out a story with a seasonal clothesline that could be rerun in perpetuity.   

2. THE VOICE OF VIOLET PUKED AFTER EVERY RECORDING SESSION.

It’s standard practice these days to use adult actors to mimic juvenile cartoon characters: adults are (presumably) better able to take direction and deliver a performance in line with the director’s wishes. But for many Peanuts specials, children were used to voice Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus, and the rest. Anne Altieri, who portrayed both Violet and Frieda, was so nervous to be part of the show that she threw up every time she was done with a recording session.

3. IT WAS THE FIRST TIME LUCY SNATCHED THE FOOTBALL FROM CHARLIE BROWN.

In animated form, anyway. When Schulz, Mendelson, and Melendez were brainstorming scene ideas for the special, talk turned to the fact that Lucy’s habit of pulling the football away from Charlie Brown had never been seen in animation. They also decided it would be a good time to introduce Snoopy’s World War I Flying Ace. The joke had appeared in the strip, but Mendelson thought it would work even better in motion. He was right: the sequence with Snoopy in a doghouse dogfight is one of the most memorable in the Peanuts animated canon.

4. IT’S SECRETLY ABOUT SANTA.

The Great Pumpkin saga was adapted from Schulz’s newspaper strip, where he had conceived it as a metaphor for some of the hope (and disappointment) associated with Saint Nick. Schulz disliked the idea kids heard of a jolly fat man who delivered presents all over the world when he knew many families could only afford one or two gifts for the holidays. “The Great Pumpkin is really kind of a satire on Santa Claus,” he told Mendelson. “When [he] doesn’t come, Linus is crushed.”

5. THE MUSIC COMPOSER WAS FOUND NAKED BY COPS.


Warner Home Video

The jazzy scores of the early Peanuts specials were the work of composer Vince Guaraldi. When he was busy putting together “The Great Pumpkin Waltz” for the show, he decided to break for a shower. When he came out, he thought he heard noises outside and went to investigate, naked, and locked himself out in the process. Keyless, Guaraldi tried climbing a ladder to a second-floor window when cops spotted him. “Don’t shoot,” he said. “I’m the Great Pumpkin.” Police, who were many months away from getting the joke, let him back inside.  

6. A LISP ALMOST RUINED THE SHOW.

Kathy Steinberg was only four years old when she portrayed Sally for the first time in A Charlie Brown Christmas: her big break came when Mendelson, her neighbor, started work on the specials. While Steinberg had some limitations—like being too young to know how to read a script—things were going well until producers realized she was on the verge of losing a tooth. Fearing a lisp would ruin the voiceover work, they rushed to get her lines done. The day after finishing, the tooth fell out.  

7. KIDS SENT CHARLIE BROWN CANDY FOR YEARS.

One of the most poignant moments of any Peanuts cartoon comes when downtrodden Charlie Brown opens his Halloween goodie sack and discovers he’s been given rocks instead of candy. According to Schulz, this so angered viewers that for years his California office was inundated with sacks of treats addressed to the character.

8. THE ORIGINAL AIRINGS WERE SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT.

Production costs for the early Charlie Brown specials were subsidized by television sponsors Coca-Cola and Dolly Madison snack cakes: the brands appear at the beginning and end of the broadcast. The Coke “bug” appeared for several years before getting phased out. 

9. CBS GOT A LITTLE SALTY ABOUT LOSING THE RIGHTS.

After spending decades at CBS, the rights to three holiday Peanuts installments went up for grabs in 2000. Though CBS could make the first offer, it was ABC who made the winning bid. Privately, CBS executives were not at all pleased about the business decision to take the football away. “It's a shame that a few more dollars meant more to them than years of tradition and loyalty," one network employee anonymously told Variety

10. SOME SCHOLARS THOUGHT THE GREAT PUMPKIN WAS REAL.


Warner Home Video

A real myth, at any rate. Talking to the Schenectady Gazette in 1968, Schulz said that since the special began airing two years earlier, he had received a number of letters from academics wondering where the Great Pumpkin story had originated. “A number of professional scholars have written me about the origination of the legend,” he said. “They insist it must be based on something.” Schulz suggested they broach the topic with Linus instead.

This article originally ran in 2015.

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