Unique ways to greet a new year

Published 8:33 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2017

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It was 1907 when New Yorkers first lowered a large glass ball at midnight to celebrate the arrival of 1908. And with that, the Big Apple showed the rest of us how a New Year should be welcomed.

But Americans have never been willing to let a bunch of New Yorkers upstage them, so nowadays, from Sea to shining Sea, our countrymen ring in the New Year by celebrating whatever they have to celebrate.

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Here are some examples, which I shamelessly took from other news organizations, chambers of commerce and other sources, reliable and unreliable.

Right here in Hampton Roads, the city of Hampton has for several years now lowered a crab pot at midnight. If you want to be part of the gala, there’s live music and street dancing before the crabby conclusion.

Up in Princess Anne, Maryland, there was once a vigorous market for muskrat pelts. That’s was back when you could wear a fur coat without fear of having someone throw paint on you. So, quite naturally, Princess Anne has a stuff muskrat, dressed in cape and top hat, that rides down a zip line to the cheers of local revelers.

Princess Anne doesn’t have the only Maryland event, though. Hagerstown, Md. Is home to Krumpe Donuts, so their city promoters have built a six-foot replica of a donut that is lowered from the Hagerstown clock tower.

Up in Port Port Clinton, Ohio folks celebrate the town position on the southern shore of Lake Erie and their popularity as a recreational fishing community. They lower a 20-foot, 600-pound fiberglass fish modeled after a walleye. The call their New Years event “Walleye Madness.” Okay.

You may not have known that Lebanon, Pennsylvania is well known for its bologna. Well, it is. And to celebrate that local product, the Lebanon celebrants have a giant bologna drop.

And out in Vincennes, Indiana, which is known for the watermelons, a pile of watermelons is dropped a midnight. I wasn’t able to find out how they manage to get local melons that are ripe but not rotten at the end of December.

My favorites though, are in North Carolina. Mount Olive, North Carolina is known for its pickle industry and celebrates by dropping a 3-foot pickle replica. This takes place at the corner of Cucumber Boulevard and Vine Street, which are close to Dill and Relish Streets, if you happen to need directions. It’s a very civilized event and takes place at 7 p.m., which is midnight in Greenwich, England, and Greenwich is the place from which time is calculated.

Saving the best for last, though, there is the Brasstown, North Carolina Possum Drop. That event has been celebrated for more than two decades and has withstood a national assault by animal rights folks because it’s the only New Years drop using a live animal. A possum is lowered in a cage at midnight and turned loose to wander — probably across a road.

The Brasstown folks were forced for a year or two to use a dead possum (one that did try to cross the road) because of legal challenges, but the North Carolina legislature paved the way for the use of live possums, and now it’s back on track.

Smithfield now being informally called Hamtown, I can hardly wait for our local tourism folks to read this column and decide that we need to drop a Smithfield Ham every year. Or, if we’re half as brave as the good folks of Brasstown, we could use a live pig.

At any rate, Happy New Year.