On New Year’s Eve I went to bed shortly after 9 pm.
Just like I always do, unless the game I am watching is a close one. Then I might stay up.
It wasn’t.
So I didn’t.
Then, just before 11 p.m., my lovely help-mate, whose staying up power is greater than mine, woke me to say that it was almost midnight in New York, so I should come out and watch the ball drop in Times Square.
You can only imagine my joy at being awaken to watch that.
Not to make light of what happens in Times Square when Dec. 31 becomes Jan. 1. And this year was the 100th anniversary of them doing it. So of course my wife knew I didn’t want to miss it.
New Yorkers are not the only folks who drop things as the old year morphs into the new.
Farrah, the lovely young woman who is often seen in the company of my son (much to his betterment according to his sister), sent me a link to an article she knew that I would “find of interest.” I clicked and there it was: “16 weird things we drop to ring in the New Year.”
Not long after Farrah was introduced to the family she realized that “weird things” interested me. She is quick, that girl.
Scanning the list, I was struck by the variety of objects being dropped, not to mention the varied rationale for dropping them.
Wanting to do a drop, local leaders in Fredrick, Maryland hit on the idea of dropping a big-old-KEY. A key? Frances Scott Key, author of The Star Spangled Banner, was from Fredrick, Maryland, duh.
In Mechanicsville, Pennsylvania, they drop a giant wrench.
True to our capitalist tradition, “weird things” are often dropped to promote local products – a mushroom (Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, “Mushroom Capital of the World”), a 200 lb. bag of Hartley’s Potato Chips (Lewistown, Pennsylvania, home of the company since 1935), and in Bethelem, Pennsylvania, home of the PEEPS candy company, a big, larger than life, fiberglass PEEPS Chick is lowered, to the delight of all.
Lest you think Pennsylvania has a lock on promotional droppings, Boise, Idaho drops a big potato. Mount Olive, North Carolina, home of the Mount Olive Pickle Company, drops a humongous pickle.
Not to be outdone Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, with nothing other than a name, does the same.
While in Vincennes, Indiana, they hold a Watermelon Drop. The melon is fake, thus avoiding the twitter-wrath of our president-elect for not buying American – where can you get a good melon in December? Mexico?
Just why they do this is unclear, but apparently it has something to do with looking forward to summer. Indiana in December! Bet they are.
Those Hoosiers should ring in the New Year in Savannah where, in homage to the city ordinance that allows folks to legally walk around with their adult beverages in To-Go-Cups, city celebrants lower, you guessed it, a To-Go-Cup – empty I presume.
If it isn’t, knowing Savannah as I do, it will be before it hits the ground.
New Years Eve droppings often come with controversy. In Brasstown, North Carolina, and Tallapoosa, Georgia, plans to hold a “Possum Drop” was met with opposition from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which argued that the “Drop” was a form of animal cruelty. Rather than take on an expensive court battle the Carolina folks opted to use a dead possum.
This apparently satisfied PETA, so long as the possum shucked off its mortal coil by natural causes.
After some discussion, death by legal hunting was added to the list of accepted ways for a possum to go.
Tallapoosa, which was the location for the New Years Eve special of “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” (the show that took the “learning” out of the Learning Channel), decided that rather than going out after Christmas to scour the roadsides for a dead possum, they would take one of the dearly departed marsupials, have it stuffed by a local taxidermist, and use it year after year.
(It is rumored that this won first prize in the Alabama Possum Ranchers annual “What to do with your dead possum” contest.)
My favorite drop wasn’t weird enough to make Farrah’s list. Down in Mobile a 600 lb Moon Pie is lowered from a downtown building.
Why a Moon Pie?
Good question. Moon Pies are cranked out by the Chattanooga Bakery, not locally, so there is no commercial connection there.
Not that it bothers Mobile, for there Moon Pies aren’t baked, they are thrown.
From Mardi Gras floats.
So why drop one on New Years?
Why not?
It’s Mobile.
So off we go into the New Year.
May this year be your best year yet.
But not the best ever.
Harvey H. (“Hardy”) Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University. He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.