The Countdown Begins

Fireworks, dancing, kissing at midnight … who doesn’t love the revelry of ringing in the New Year?

But what’s the deal with people dropping things on New Year’s Eve? We had to know. It turns out that the Times Square Ball was, indeed, the first celebratory ball to drop (on New Year’s Eve, 1907), but now there are all sorts of other crazy things descending from the heavens on the last night of the year. Where did it all begin?


Photo by Hunter Kahn via Wikimedia Commons

Apparently, at sea. Before the convenience of modern navigational tools on ships, sailors relied on “time balls,” usually stationed onshore at observatories because the clocks were set according to the positions of the sun and stars. The large wooden or metal spheres were dropped once a day at 1 p.m., and ships could observe and reset their time when the ball started dropping. One time ball—installed at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England, in 1833 (below)—has dropped at 1 p.m. every day since then.


Photo by Rept0n1x via Wikimedia Commons

The dropping tradition has since been adopted by countless cities around the country—with certain regional eccentricities, that is. Take a look …

The Annual Peach Drop in Atlanta, Georgia, is celebrated by dropping an 8′ peach, crafted of painted fiberglass and foam, from a whopping 138′.


Peach Drop Tower, photo by Rjluna2 via Wikimedia Commons

In Mt. Olive, North Carolina, you’ll find the New Year’s Eve Pickle Drop, but don’t wait until midnight to catch a glimpse of the giant glowing pickle’s descent, which is scheduled to coincide with midnight Greenwich Mean Time (7 p.m. North Carolina time).


Photo by RadioFan via Wikimedia Commons

It would seem that North Carolina is keen on the New Year’s Eve drop because, in addition to the pickle, it also hosts the Raleigh Acorn Drop in “The City of Oaks.” The giant copper acorn weighs 1,250 lbs, and unlike the premature pickle drop, the acorn is ceremoniously lowered at the stroke of midnight. And at the Flea Drop in Eastover (known as Flea Hill until the 1920s), a 30-lb, 3′-tall flea made of fabric, foam, wire, and wood is dropped at midnight.


Photo by Ke4roh via Wikimedia Commons

In Vincennes, Indiana, an 18′, 500-lb watermelon ball made of steel and foam is raised 100′ in the air during the countdown to midnight. On the hour, the watermelon opens and drops 11 real locally-grown watermelons amid a flurry of fireworks.


Photo via

Panama City, Florida, drops 10,000 inflated beach balls along Pier Park’s beachfront boardwalk at the nation’s only family beach-ball drop. Elsewhere in Florida, Key West drops a 6′ queen conch shell, Miami drops a 35′ orange from a 400′ perch, and Sarasota drops an 8′-tall glowing pineapple.

So this New Year’s Eve, look up … you never know what you might see dropping from the midnight sky.

Leave a comment 8 Comments

  1. I live near Hershey the home of the chocolate. They drop a huge Hershey’s Kiss on New Year’s Eve but the papers are very adament that it isn’t real chocolate !

  2. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Living in the U.P. of Michigan, Escanaba & Marquette drop pasties for the New Year’s Eve celebration! We love our pasties here!

  3. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I wonder what they drop here in Iceland?? I will let you know. I have never heard of the history of local drops on New Years Eve but I love the regional creativity you shared.

  4. Well that would be great to see all that happen. We are quiet in our area, so that is pretty neat.
    Thanks for sharing the information.

    Have a Happy New Year!

  5. Winnie Nielsen says:

    It is now 7am January 1 and what a celebration we had here. We had those privilege to be a part of a group that was with a local family business group. We started with a traditional dinner of halibut soup, lamb, rotated potatoes, mixed rotated veggies, and rolls. Then we went on a bus to one of the community bonfires with a few fireworks before returning back late for dessert , coffee, and entertainment by a local magician and a niece who is studying operas and sang three lovely songs. The Icelanders bring in the new year with a city that lights up the sky with fireworks everywhere. I mean to tell you, there is 30 minutes of lighted skies in a 360 degree view. It is amazing !! The actual moment was toasted with champagne and it was snowing and sleeting and FREEZING!! It was home by 1am and now up to get ready for a visit to a volcano site. I am off is pursuit of coffee !!!

  6. Nancy Coughlin says:

    Lived in Indianapolis for several years and a friend told that they dropped a 12,000 lb race car(minus the engine!) this year for the first time. Covered the car with sparkly lights. Only in Indy!!!

  7. Pingback: Auld Lang Syne, My Dear! | Raising Jane Journal

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