25 Odd Items Dropped for New Year's Eve Celebrations

Peeps
Peeps

Don’t live anywhere near New York City but still desperate to see something—anything—drop during the countdown to 2019?

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 and watch it descend again as a way 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, 400-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

A cat flea
iStock.com/coopder1

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

A hungry-looking carp rising out of the water
iStock.com/mauinow1

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.

5. An olive // Bartlesville, Oklahoma

Two martini glasses with olives.
iStock.com/NikiLitov

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

Person holding a metal wrench
iStock.com/natasaadzic

Get it? Mechanicsburg?

9. A duck decoy // Havre de Grace, Maryland

Duck decoy.
iStock.com/gyro

As home to both a Pat Vincenti Duck Decoy store and a 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.

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. So it makes sense that the city would welcome the new year with a hefty helping of bologna. And this year, they're changing things up a bit when a six-foot-tall, papier-mâché version of The Bologna Ranger gets lowered alongside the meat.

 

16. Marshall the muskrat // Princess Anne, Maryland

A photo of a muskrat
iStock.com/rmarnold

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.

17. A pickle // Mt. Olive, North Carolina

Photo of a pickle
iStock.com/domnicky

If you love briny cucumbers, you'll appreciate the 3-foot pickle that drops down the flagpole at 7 p.m. EST ("which also happens to be midnight Greenwich Mean Time," their website tells us).

18. An acorn // Raleigh, North Carolina

Golden acorn on a black background
iStock.com/bodnarchuk

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.com/belterz

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

20. A key // Frederick, Maryland

Photo of an antique key
iStock.com/RapidEye

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.com/Rostislav_Sedlacek

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.com/JulyVelchev

The Music Note dropped at midnight in Nashville is a nod to the town's "Music City" nickname. (Keith Urban will be on hand to perform before and after the ceremony this year.)

23. A guitar // Memphis, Tennessee

Beale Street in Downtown Memphis, Tennessee
iStock.com/Aneese

Nashville isn't the only Tennessee city known for its rich musical history. In Downtown Memphis, thousands of people will gather for the annual Beale Street Guitar Drop.

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, right next door to Bayfront Park. And if that's not enough for you, there's also Pitbull.

25. A giant watermelon // Vincennes, Indiana

A watermelon in a garden
iStock.com/Alter_photo

When it gets to the top, the 500-pound watermelon ball opens to release 19 real Knox County watermelons, making a mess that would make Gallagher proud in the splash zone below.

Vermont and Maine Are Replacing Columbus Day With Indigenous Peoples' Day

David Ryder/Getty Images
David Ryder/Getty Images

The narrative surrounding Christopher Columbus has shifted in recent years, leading some U.S. states and cities to reconsider glorifying the figure with his own holiday. If the governors of Vermont and Maine sign their new bills into law, the two states will become the latest places to replace Columbus Day with Indigenous Peoples' Day, CNN reports.

In 1971, the Uniform Holiday Bill went into effect, officially designating Columbus Day as a federal holiday to be celebrated on the second Monday of October. The holiday was originally meant to recognize the "discovery" of America—a version of history that erases the people already living on the continent when Columbus arrived and ignores the harm he inflicted.

As Columbus's popularity decreases in the U.S., some places have embraced Indigenous Peoples' Day: A day dedicated to Native American culture in history. The holiday is already observed in Seattle, Washington; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Alaska. Earlier this year, Sandusky, Ohio announced they would swap Columbus Day for Voting Day and give municipal workers the election Tuesday of November off instead.

Indigenous Peoples' Day has been celebrated in place of Columbus Day in Vermont for the past few years, but a new bill would make the change permanent. The Vermont state legislature has voted yes on the bill, and now it just needs approval from Governor Phil Scott, which he says he plans to give. If he passes the law, it will go into effect on October 14, 2019 (the date Columbus Day falls on this year).

Maine voted on a similar bill in March, and it gained approval from both the state's Senate and House of Representatives. Like Governor Scott, Maine governor Janet Mills plans on signing her state's bill and making the holiday official.

Regardless of the legal status of Columbus Day, Indigenous Peoples' Day celebrations take place across the country every October. South Dakota hosts Native American Day festivities at the Crazy Horse Memorial each year, and in Seattle, Indigenous Peoples celebrations last a whole week.

[h/t The Washington Post]

6 Creative Recycling Efforts From Around the Globe

iStock.com/ElenaSeychelles
iStock.com/ElenaSeychelles

Recycling isn't—and shouldn’t be—limited to separating plastic cartons, junk mail, and tin cans for the garbage collector. This Earth Day, think outside the plastic bin, and brainstorm creative ways to convert or re-purpose old, discarded, or unexpected materials into something new and useful. Don't know where to start? Get inspired by one (or all) of the sustainable organizations and initiatives below.

1. The Shopping Center That Sells Recycled/Upcycled Items

The adage “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure” rings true in Eskilstuna, Sweden. The metropolis is home to a shopping center, ReTuna Återbruksgalleria, which only sells upcycled, recycled, or sustainable merchandise. (The name ReTuna Återbruksgalleria combines Tuna, which is a nickname for the city; återbruk, which means “reuse” in Swedish; and galleria, which means mall.)

Patrons can drop off objects they no longer want or need at a designated recycling depot. Items that can be repaired are fixed and re-sold in the mall’s nine shops, which offer customers everything from furniture to clothing items to sporting equipment. Goods that can’t be sold are donated to needy institutions or organizations, or recycled.

2. The Mall That Feeds Its Food Waste To Hogs

A sign outside the Mall of America
iStock.com/Wolterk

The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, is the nation’s largest shopping center—and it’s also vying for the title of “greenest.” In addition to LED parking garage lighting, water-efficient toilets, and thousands of air-purifying plants and trees, the mall annually recycles more than 2400 tons of food waste by donating it to a local hog farm. (If you’re an entrepreneur who’s interested in emulating the MOA’s large-scale food waste strategy, you can check out the Environmental Protection Agency’s guidelines for getting started here.)

3. The Nonprofit That Transforms Flip-Flop Flotsam Into Art

Around 8.8 million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year. Soda bottles, grocery bags, and six-pack rings aren’t the only plastic items polluting the world’s waterways and harming fish, turtles, and other animals: In 1997, marine conservationist Julie Church came across a beach in Kenya that was strewn with discarded flip-flops.

Church noticed children making toys from the debris, and convinced local women to collect, wash, and process the flip-flops into colorful art objects. This initiative grew into Ocean Sole, a fair-trade business that today collects flip-flop flotsam from Kenya's beaches and waters and transforms them into plastic sculptures, accessories, and trinkets. Ocean Sole's goal is to recycle 750,000 flip-flops per year, and the organization also provides business opportunities to women living in city slums and remote coastal areas.

4. The Company That Turns Used Diapers Into Usable Items

 
Founded in 1989, Knowaste is a Canadian company that recycles diapers and absorbent hygiene products (AHPs), such as baby diapers, feminine hygiene products, and incontinence pads. They've developed a way to strip them of their plastic and fiber, which they then use to make products like composite construction materials, pet litter, and cardboard industrial tubing.

5. THE ECOLOGICAL NONPROFIT THAT COLLECTS HAIR TO CLEAN UP OIL SPILLS

Work at a beauty salon or own a furry pet? Instead of tossing shorn or shed hair into the trash, donate it to Matter of Trust. The San Francisco-based ecological charity’s Clean Wave program collects hair and fur, and uses it to make oil-absorbing mats and stuff containment booms. Hazmat teams use these all-natural tools to clean up after oil spills, and public works departments use them to keep motor oil drip spills out of waterways.

In addition to large-scale donations from beauty salons, barbershops, and groomers, Matter of Trust also accepts smaller contributions from private individuals. If you’re interested in helping out, visit Matter of Trust’s website, register to participate in the nonprofit’s Excess Access recycling program, and follow the instructions to donate. The program’s need for hair and fur ebbs and flows, depending on the volume of recent donations. But in the case of an emergency oil spill, all donations are welcome. (Cases in point: Matter of Trust’s hair mats and booms were used to help clean up after both the 2007 Cosco Busan oil spill in the San Francisco Bay and the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.)

6. The Nonprofit That Re-Purposes Old Crayons Into New Ones

As art supplies go, crayons are relatively cheap, making it all too easy and inexpensive to toss scuzzy, broken, and worn-down wax stubs into the trash and purchase new ones. But crayons are typically made from paraffin wax and aren’t biodegradable—so to keep old art tools from clogging landfills, a Northern California-based nonprofit called The Crayon Initiative collects unwanted crayons from restaurants and schools and melts them down to make fresh ones. Then, they donate the re-purposed goods to children’s hospitals. Family restaurants and schools can find out how to organize crayon donation drives online.

A version of this article first ran in 2017. It has been updated to reflect current data.

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