By Alix Strauss, Kirsten Stamn | Travel+Leisure
An 80-pound wedge of Styrofoam cheese brings in the New Year in Plymouth, WI. (Richard Fellenz)
New Year’s Eve is ultimately about the countdown, and it’s made official when something drops at midnight. Across America, cities have gotten creative. Some wacky drops pay tribute to local products or tastes, while others go all-out outrageous. Whether you’re braving the crowds or in a hotel room, cheering a drop is part of the year-end spectacle—before the hangover and resolutions kick in.
The largest New Year’s party in the Southeast, for instance, culminates with the release of an 800-pound fiberglass-and-foam peach in Atlanta. Known for its multimillion-dollar melon industry, Vincennes, IN, raises an 18-foot watermelon, which opens to drop 12 real Knox County watermelons.
Read on for more wacky New Year’s drops, worth celebrating no matter where you bring in 2012.
A big red plywood maple leaf honoring nearby Canada is released at 11 p.m. and an eight-foot sardine (paying homage to the local industry) at midnight. Tides Institute & Museum of Art; (207) 853-4047; tidesinstitute.org.
Home to the headquarters of the ubiquitous bird-shaped Easter marshmallow candy, Bethlehem ceremoniously lowers a yellow, lighted, 85-pound fiberglass resin Peep at 5:15 p.m. and midnight. SteelStacks; (610) 332-3378; artsquest.org.
A 1,250-pound steel-and-copper acorn is dropped at 7 p.m. (for the kids) and midnight. City Plaza; (919) 832-8699; firstnightraleigh.com.
The largest New Year’s party in the Southeast features the fall of an 800-pound fiberglass-and-foam peach. Underground Atlanta; (404) 523-2311; peachdrop.com.
Known for its multimillion-dollar melon industry, Indiana raises an 18-foot, 500-pound watermelon into the sky, which then opens to release 12 real Knox County watermelons (don’t worry, there’s a splash zone below). Riverfront Pavilion; (800) 886-6443; vincennescvb.org.
At 10 p.m. and midnight, the city lowers a six-foot pinecone. Why? Flagstaff lies on the edge of the world’s largest contiguous ponderosa forest. Hotel Weatherford; (928) 779-1919; weatherfordhotel.com.
This town drops an 80-pound wedge of BellaVitano Gold cheese; alas, it’s made of Styrofoam. Plymouth Arts Center; (920) 892-8409; plymoutharts.org.
An illuminated 10-foot Gibson guitar is dropped every year at the Hard Rock Café, drawing crowds averaging 15,000–20,000 annually. Hard Rock Café Niagara Falls, 333 Prospect St.; (716) 282-0007.
The New Year kicks off here as flamboyantly as you’d expect. Key West’s now-famous festivities include dropping a drag queen named Sushi in a giant ruby red slipper. Bourbon Street Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St.; (305) 293-9800.