In 1976, Boston led the way for First Night celebrations, which highlight a community's culture with music, comedy, art and more. Such celebrations take place in the afternoon through midnight on the last day of each year. The original New Year's Eve event banned alcohol, ensuring the countdown to midnight was family friendly. By 2006, more than a million attended the city's First Night Celebration. Today, Boston's event features fireworks over the harbor at midnight, among citywide attractions. Other notable First Night cities include historic Old Town Alexandria, Pittsburgh, Providence, and Bethlehem, Pa.
Still, there are other ways to celebrate New Year's Eve, and we're not talking about Times Square's ball drop either. We have PEEPS, acorns, peaches, conch shells and kisses! Take a look at these, shall we say, more interesting, New Year's Eve ball drops.
For Georgia Peaches and anyone else looking to enjoy New Year's Eve in the South, Atlanta's Peach Drop is the party to attend. During the 16-hour event, the Family Fun & Budding Peach Stage provides carnival-style rides, face painting, food vendors and more. Throughout the day, live music is performed in Kenny's Alley, and at night, an 800-pound peach is dropped in Atlanta's Underground.
Bethlehem, Pa. is known as Christmas City, but it's also the home of Just Born Inc., the makers of PEEPS. The city's New Year's Eve celebration incorporates the famous candy with its 85-pound, lighted PEEP drop. Families can enjoy PEEPS Fest on December 30 and 31, with live music, arts and crafts, S'mores, photos with the PEEPS Chick, movies and more. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on December 31, Musikfest Cafe will transform into a Family Disco Lounge, complete with a DJ and bounce house.
Hershey, Pa., home of Hershey Chocolate, celebrates New Year's Eve with a giant Hershey Kiss drop at midnight. The free event takes place 9 p.m. to midnight at the Square in Hershey, with family-friendly musical performances leading up to the drop. This year's headliner is Boys Like Girls, who will take the stage at 11 p.m. Once the giant kiss drops, fireworks top off the celebration. The event is non-alcoholic, and venders are on hand with snack options.
Beach Ball Drop
What else do you drop on a New Year's Eve ball drop at Panama City Beach but a giant beach ball? This event takes place at Pier Park and features an 800-pound beach ball made of Waterford Crystal. The fifth annual drop will feature a family celebration from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. For those old enough to stay out later, music (featuring country star James Otto), fireworks and the official beach ball drop occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.
In Raleigh, N.C., forget the ball drop. Here, it's a 1,200-pound copper acorn that welcomes the new year! The New Year's Eve festivities begin at 2 p.m. with the Children's Celebration, and feature crafts, music and more! New this year is Tots Under the Big Top, an area with interactive performances and activities geared especially to children ages 6 and under!
In Easton, Md., the end of the year is celebrated with a giant crab. The event is part of First Night Talbot (County), and includes a family drop at 9 p.m., reminding families that 9 p.m. is actually midnight in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and Easton is located in the mid-Atlantic. (Get it?) A second drop occurs at midnight, with the papier mache, steel-reinforced crab meant to look like the area's famed blue crabs.
During World War II, bombardiers claimed to be so accurate that they could drop a bomb into a pickle barrel. This gave the Mt. Olive Pickle Company the brilliant idea of hosting a New Year's Eve Pickle Drop. The lighted green pickle is dropped at 7 p.m., which is midnight Greenwich Mean Time, so it's perfect for families who can make their way to Mount Olive, N.C. for the event.
Since 1885, Lebanon, Pa., home to Weaver's Bologna, has been celebrating New Year's Eve with an annual bologna drop. The 12-foot-long, 150-pound bologna is actually the real deal: It's literally bologna! Located just two hours from Philadelphia, the Lebanon event runs 10:30 a.m. to midnight with a number of events and entertainment for the family.
The small town of Port Clinton, Ohio, has landed in the public eye for its New Year's Eve celebration, featuring a 20-foot, 600-pound Walleye fish. The entire town goes gaga for walleye with restaurants serving up special dishes and a local winery creating a Walleye White. Events begin at 6 p.m. with a kids drop in the Family Fun Center, followed by games, music and a huge rock-paper-scissors contest! Even after 10 p.m., musicians are family-friendly. This year, "Wylie the Walleye Jr." (Captain Wylie, the original walleye, has retired to the Florida Keys) will be dropped, and fireworks will end the party.
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