It's said that New York City's Times Square ball drop
is a nod to the time when balls were used by ship navigators in the 19th century to calibrate their chronometers. That may be so, but the rest of the country seems to be paying little heed to that element of history. Instead, towns from coast to coast ring in the new year by dropping - or raising - any number of seriously strange things
on a pole at the stroke of midnight. Here is a sampling of some of the more offbeat drops:
1. In Key West, Fla., at the 801 Saloon, midnight ushers in a falling ruby slipper, from which emerges a drag queen named Gary "Sushi" Marion.
Residents of Tallapoosa, Ga., say "happy new year" on odd years with the drop of an opossum
. "It kind of started out as a joke," says organizer Kate Gardner. "But now it's grown to one of the biggest events we have."
Princess Anne, Md., witnesses the drop of a stuffed muskrat named Marshall P. Muskrat, who dons a top hat and bow tie for the occasion.
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Kitschy Niagara Falls, N.Y., sees the descent of a 10-foot Gibson Guitar from a 120-foot scaffold at the Hard Rock Cafe.
For some reason, visitors to Eastover, N.C., celebrate with the drop of a three-foot tall, 30-pound wooden flea.
Bethlehem, Pa., home of the marshmallow Peep
, says goodbye to the past year with the drop of a 100-pound yellow illuminated Peep.
Residents of Mobile, Ala., are treated to the lowering of a 600-pound well-lit Moon Pie.
8. In Plymouth, Wis., an 80-pound cheese wedge falls from a 100-foot ladder truck.
A 100-pound stick of Lebanon bologna - which is more like salami than luncheon meat - is dropped in Lebanon, Pa., before being distributed to a food bank.
To flaunt the adage "when pigs fly," Cincinnati, Ohio, "flies" a giant pig.