New Year’s Eve: Where We’ll Spend Our Night and Our Money

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So what are you doing tonight?

If you’re like most Americans who are traveling for the holiday, you’re probably gonna party in New York City. A survey by Priceline.com of its own bookings shows that out of the top 10 New Year’s Eve destinations, seven are in the Big Apple…

  1. New York City, Times Square/Theater District
  2. Las Vegas, Strip Vicinity South
  3. New York City, Midtown West
  4. Las Vegas, Strip North
  5. New York City, Midtown East
  6. New York City, Central Park South
  7. New York City, Madison Square Garden/Convention Center Area
  8. New Orleans, French Quarter
  9. New York City, Empire State Building Area
  10. New York City, Chelsea Area

But the most popular destinations aren’t always the most fun – and by definition, they’re not the cheapest. Another travel website, Trip Advisor, announced its own list, but this one is called “the top quirkiest New Year’s Eve celebrations in the United States.” And all of them are free. If you live within driving distance of these places, you might want to consider a last-minute night out…

1. Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop (Eastport, Maine)

“Home to the first sardine cannery in the U.S., Eastport has celebrated the industry since 2005 by dropping an 8-foot long, 30-pound sardine made from wood and acrylic at 11 p.m. Eastern Time. After the sardine plunges from the third-story window of The Tides Institute, revelers rush to give the fish a salty smooch in the belief this will bring good luck in the coming year. The festivities don’t end there; at midnight, a four-foot wide Maple Leaf is dropped, to honor Maine’s northern Canadian neighbors.”

2. Possum Drop (Brasstown, North Carolina)

“Brasstown will celebrate its title of Possum Capital of the World for the 18th year, with two fun-filled hours of activities. Local men resplendent in feminine attire will compete for the coveted title of Miss Possum Queen, while revelers can soak up live music and tasty treats in anticipation of the lowering of a triangular, plexiglass box containing a prized possum. Once the crowd clears, the nocturnal mammal – unscathed from its public appearance – is given a midnight snack and released in to the night.”

3. Bologna Drop (Lebanon, Pennsylvania)

“As the clock strikes midnight, a 12-foot long loaf of bologna, weighing 200 pounds, swallows the attention of New Year’s revelers as it is lowered to the ground from a crane service. Following its descent to Earth, the salty sandwich staple will be donated and devoured by a local charity. This annual fête is held at the corner of Ninth and Cumberland Streets and includes toe-tapping tunes, complimentary hot beverages, and festive First Night fun.”

4. Wooden Flea Drop (Eastover, North Carolina)

“Until the 1920s, Eastover was known as Flea Hill, due to a pandemic of the pesky insects throughout town. In honor of its former wretched residents, the town will ring in 2012 by dropping a 30-pound flea for the second consecutive year. Constructed from fabric, foam, wire and wood, revelers are in no danger of being bitten by the oversize bug as they partake in the family-friendly celebrations, which include a bonfire, refreshments, and old-fashioned fun.”

5. “Sushi” Drag Queen Drop (Key West, Florida)

“The isle of Key West will be brimming with holiday cheer as it hosts three fun-filled festivities. Travelers can ring in 2012 at The Bourbon Street Pub, where legendary drag queen Sushi is lowered to the ground, while seated in a giant, glossy red shoe. Celebrations will also be held at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where a 6-foot tall Styrofoam conch shell is lowered into a sea of revelers – while a ‘pirate wench’ will be dropped from the mast of an old wooden ship at Schooner Wharf Bar, on nearby Williams Street.”

6. MoonPie Drop (Mobile, Alabama)

“Home of America’s first Mardi Gras celebration, Mobile celebrates the famous ‘throw’ of MoonPies to masked Mardi Gras revelers by dropping a 12-foot electronic MoonPie from a height of 34 stories. Residents consume more than four million MoonPies annually, hence adopting the mouthwatering marshmallow treat as the town’s informal emblem and even paying homage to it as the clock strikes midnight. Events begin at 7:30 p.m. with a Mardi-Gras style parade, featuring floats, live music and more.”

7. Cheese Drop (Plymouth, Wisconsin)

“Cheese lovers can satisfy their cravings at Plymouth, Wisconsin’s annual New Year’s Cheese drop, which pays homage to the local dairy industry. This year will mark the fifth annual dropping of the 80-pound Styrofoam chunk of cheese from a 100-foot ladder truck. Painted and decorated by a local artist, the star of the show is guaranteed to offer flavorsome fun, rounded off with art, games, and complimentary refreshments as hundreds gather to welcome the New Year.”

8. Pelican Drop (Pensacola, Florida)

“The streets of Pensacola will be flocking with fun and games in honor of the New Year with three stages of live entertainment. At 8 p.m., a Bubble Stomp will invite children to jump and jive across a vast expanse of bubbly mailing wrap, to mimic the clamor of fireworks – before the real star of the show, a giant, 14-foot pelican, makes its 100-foot descent at midnight. Celebrations will conclude with a dazzling display of fireworks and colorful confetti.”

9. Watermelon Drop (Vincennes, Indiana)

“For the fourth year, Vincennes’ Watermelon Drop will celebrate the local melon-growing industry along with the start of the New Year. Thousands of spectators – many of whom are dressed as the waterlogged fruit – gather to watch the 18-foot, 500-pound watermelon drop 100-feet onto a splatform. The man-made melon, crafted from steel and foam, also releases a dozen locally grown watermelons to signal the beginning of a tasty New Year.”

10. Little Apple Drop (Manhattan, Kansas)

“For folks who are not able to make it to New York City, Manhattan, Kansas brings the spirit of Times Square to the Midwest. Thousands of revelers gather to join the festivities, which begin at 10 p.m. with a laser light show, accompanied by live music from local artists and a deejay. At the stroke of midnight, a rotund ruby apple, made from aluminum and glass, will shimmy its way to the ground for the ninth consecutive year, as fireworks illuminate the sky.”

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