As the New Year approaches, many are gearing up to celebrate the Eve of with all it has to offer. Indy is no exception and in fact, has lots planned for the big night, including the annual ‘unveiling’ of a custom car that will be suspended high above Georgia Street, as Hoosiers and performers gather to celebrate.
Talking with a Hoosier recently, I learned that Indianapolis drops not a crystal ball on New Year’s Eve, rather they lower a Indy Car. Of course they do!. This is, after all, the home of auto racing and the 500.
The car will begin its descent at 11:59 p.m. and touch ground by the time the crowd finishes the countdown. A tradition dating back to 2015, the lowering of the Indy Car involves a lot of hands-on help. Free to all, the Bankers Life Fieldhouse entry pavilion will be the scene of the activities, with artists, music, food trucks, and bigtime crowds.
Most of us are familiar with what happens in Times Square as revelers watch the giant ball drop in New York City. Where did the tradition originate, you might ask? Sailors, in years past used “time balls” to set their own timepieces while out at sea. Their chronometers were set by using a spyglass to scan the harbor, looking for balls that were dropped into the water at certain times of day. According to the PBS.org site, the first- time ball, installed at Portsmouth, England, dropped in 1829 and by 1845, Washington D.C. had also installed one.
By 1904, a ball was present in Times Square; the first version made of wood and iron, adorned with 100 25-watt lightbulbs, dropped in 1907. Fireworks had been banned so, according to the Times Square Alliance, New York Times publisher Adolph Ochs, working with an electrician, came up with the alternative-the ball.
Since the first drop, reported the Times Square Alliance, there have been seven balls; the current ball weighs 6 tons, with a 12-foot diameter, and its ‘bling’ is provided by 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles and 32,256 LED lights.
Although watching an IndyCar take the plunge this Monday isn’t on my list, I thought it might be entertaining to look at other places in the world to see what items are sacrificed in New Year’s Eve drops.
As you might guess, there are many different traditions all over the world on New Year’s Eve, from singing Auld Lang Syne to drinking champagne, to kissing someone. New York City's Times Square is, of course, known for their ball drop on New Year's Eve. Tallapoosa, Ga. rings in the new year by dropping a taxidermied opossum named Spencer. The “Possum Drop” isn’t’ the only odd tradition out there. We discovered a few others:
According to Wikipedia, Cincinnati, Ohio drops a Flying Pig just before midnight, in Carlisle, PA it’s a button, and in Mobile, AL, a 600-lb. lit Moon Pie!
Eastport, Maine drops a sardine in a nod to the area’s history in the herring fishing and canning industry. In Niagara Falls, it’s a 10-ft. Gibson Guitar, dropped from a specially designed 120-ft. scaffold at midnight at the Hard Rock Café. In Elmore, Ohio it’s a sausage, and in Eastover, N.C., a three-ft., 30-lb. wooden flea! Our favorite.
If you’re in Ann Arbor, MI on New Year’s Eve, look for the falling hockey puck, and in Gainesville, Georgia, it’s Chuck the Chicken, started in 2009 to celebrate the Humane Society. Orlando, the home of Disney World, has a lot of tricks up its sleeve, and on Church St., it’s the annual Entertainment New Year’s Eve Street Party, a huge video wall, confetti, cannons, fireworks, and a tradition of the Orange Drop, high above Church St.
Some other drops (or raises) include Key West, Florida’s 6-ft. Queen Conch Shell Drop, and if you happen to be at the 801 Saloon, you’ll witness a ruby slipper with a drag queen inside dropping in! Not all things are ‘dropped.’ Rather, In Prestonsburg, KY, a star is raised.
If you're in Indy on the Eve of the new year, festivities begin at 5:00 p.m. Bands perform outside (bundle up), and other activities will be inside Banker's Life Fieldhouse. A massive display of fireworks will light the sky, as more than 20,000 people take part in the celebration.
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