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What drops on New Year’s Eve? Not just Times Square ball

Female impersonator Gary Marion, known as Sushi, hangs in a giant replica of a woman’s high heel shoe in Key West, Fla., in the annual Big Red Shoe Drop.
Female impersonator Gary Marion, known as Sushi, hangs in a giant replica of a woman’s high heel shoe in Key West, Fla., in the annual Big Red Shoe Drop. Florida Keys News Bureau via AP

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 on 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 one of the state’s most famous products.

▪ In Lake Tahoe, Nev., a brightly lit gondola is dropped at the Heavenly Mountain ski resort.

▪ In Key West, Fla., 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, Pa., 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, Tenn., a lit-up guitar is dropped at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale Street.

▪ Raleigh, N.C., 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.

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