If you’re like millions of Americans, New Year’s Eve means “Time Square” whether you watch it on TV from the comfort of your own home or witness the ball drop in person.
Sure, being there is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences–if you want to brave the crowds, weather and assault on your wallet.
But if you want to be “in the minute” of the excitement of a countdown to a new year, it’s nice to know you have other options. If you live near a town that does its own “drop,” you can observe it in your own time zone and spend the first night of the new year in your own bed.
If you’re up for a late December getaway, plenty of places offer a “drop” experience at a price that’s easier on the budget than New York City.
Take Manhattan, Kansas, which bills itself as “the Little Apple” for instance. Every New Year’s Eve, visitors and locals alike greet the new year as an apple is dropped from a building at the corner of, fittingly, Manhattan Avenue and Broadway in the Aggieville section of the city. This year’s festivities feature live entertainment, a visit by Theresa Vail, Miss Kansas 2013, and a fireworks show.
One of the zaniest drops happens in Mobile, Alabama, when a 12-foot-tall electronic MoonPie descends from the 34-story RSA Trustmark building to welcome 2014. The event also heralds the beginning of Mardi Gras season in Mobile.
The event, conceived by a city councilman several years ago, draws some 60,000 to Mobile every year.
The free celebration begins with a Mardi Gras-style parade, and ends in an expanded laser light show and fireworks. In between are family-oriented activities and a concert by country music star Gretchen Wilson. A dozen and a half televisions throughout the Gulf Coast area will broadcast MoonPie Over Mobile.
Why a MoonPie? The chocolate-and-marshmallow sandwich has been the “throw” of choice at the city’s Mardi Gras parades since 1952 making the cookie the city’s unofficial emblem. This year Chattanooga Bakery, makers of the MoonPie, are adding to the fun by creating a 350-pound giant edible MoonPie that it will serve to the crowd.
Here are some other “drops” around the country. You’ll be surprised at what some cities are releasing but it’s all in fun and, in most cases, free:
- Everything’s peachy. Atlanta drops (what else?) a peach, as part of a 16-hour event that includes a day of family fun and an evening of entertainment.
- The Puck Drops Here. Ann Arbor, Michigan, rings out the old with a six-hour New Year’s Eve street party with live entertainment. The midnight countdown features a 10-foot hockey puck lit with 6,000 LED lights in honor of the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic that happens the next day.
- Watermelon, man. In Vincennes, Indiana, the fun begins at 9 p.m. with music and food/spirits vendors culminating in the dropping of the “Great Watermelon” at midnight, which releases 14 real watermelons to welcome in the new year.
- Holy mackerel, er, sardine. Eastport, Maine, welcomes in the New Year with the dropping of a giant red maple leaf at midnight Atlantic time and an 8-foot sardine at midnight Eastern time. The leaf and the fish drop from the third story of the Tides Institute and Museum of Art at Bank Square.
- Cheese, please. What else would you expect Cheeseheads to drop on New Year’s Eve? It’s a Big Cheese Drop at the Plymouth Arts Center in Plymouth, Wisconsin.
- Pigs do fly? Fayetteville, Arkansas, celebrates the passing of the year with a “Last Night Fayetteville” event (admission charged) that includes live performances and a giant puppet parade. At midnight a hog is dropped.