A giant, glowing Peep rings in the New Year in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Mammoth Marshmallow
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania releases a 400-lb PEEP as part of its New Year's Eve celebrations. Many cities pattern ceremonies based off New York City's midnight ball drop, but with decidedly quirky local items. (Image by Shutterstock)

Most New Year’s Eve celebrations are online this year, so even if you miss the Times Square ball drop you can still enjoy all the weird and wild items other US cities drop to ring in the occasion.

Sure, the big ball in New York City gets all the credit for being the main event on New Year’s Eve, but what about other things? Plenty of cities all across the US drop their own versions of “the ball” at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and some get really, really creative. 

Most New Year’s Eve celebrations are moving to a virtual format this year, including in Times Square, which is only allowing invited frontline workers and their families in person. Therefore, the drops need to be more entertaining than ever. Without further ado, from mushrooms to marshmallow Peeps, here are the craziest “ball drops” in the US.

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania: A Giant Marshmallow PEEP®

It’s not as weird as it sounds—The PEEPS® parent company, Just Born, resides in the eastern Pennsylvania town. So, naturally, they plunge a 5-foot tall, 400-pound, brightly lit Peep from the sky to kick off the new year. 

During a non-pandemic year, the PEEPS® Chick drop is the highlight of PEEPSFEST®, a two-day festival of holiday celebration at the iconic SteelStacks in Bethlehem. This year, the festival is fully virtual (you know, in case you’re curious about what a massive, illuminated marshmallow looks like when it drops from a giant crane).

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Kennett Square, Pennsylvania: The Lighted Mushroom

The Chester County town of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is the self-proclaimed “mushroom capital of the world.” It makes sense that a mushroom would take the place of the traditional New Year’s Eve ball, then. 

This year, the Mushroom Festival is a virtual event, but folks can still watch the mushroom drop in person (from a safe, parked distance) or online at home. 

Key West, Florida: A Conch Drop

While the tourist-laden city of Key West is typically teeming with revelers on New Year’s Eve, all events have been canceled this year due to the ongoing pandemic. But during a normal year, one of the area’s most famous bars, Sloppy Joe’s, does a “conch drop” in lieu of a ball.

Plymouth, Wisconsin: A Big Wedge Of Cheese

The Plymouth Arts Center hosts the annual “Big Cheese Drop” in the Cheese Capital of the World, Plymouth, Wisconsin. Because, of course, a big hunk of cheese is the exact right thing to drop to mark the new year for Wisconsinites! 

For the past 14 years, the event has drawn huge crowds as everyone counts down to the lowering of the giant cheese wedge, made of Sartori’s award-winning BellaVitano Gold Cheese. After the cheese is dropped, the PAC usually hosts a party with complimentary champagne toast and hors d’oeuvres, but that won’t go on this year.

Following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Wisconsin, the 2020 Sartori Cheese drop was already filmed in partnership with the Plymouth Arts Center and the Plymouth Fire Department and can be viewed on YouTube.

Prescott, Arizona: A Big Boot Drop

If you’ve ever wanted to see a 6-foot cowboy boot drop from a flagpole on a roof, you’re in luck: it happens every year in Prescott, Arizona. The boot was designed six years ago by local graphic artist Stephan Markov of Morgan Sign Co. The boot, which weighs about 80 pounds, was constructed of Styrofoam, resin, and fiberglass sheeting.

Though the big “Boot Drop” is usually accompanied by large crowds and fireworks in Prescott, Arizona, this year the event and New Year’s Eve countdown is moving online.

Atlanta, Georgia: A Peach 

It only makes sense that in the capital city of the Peach State, officials would drop its iconic fruit. For the past 30 years, starting in 1989, the glowing, 525 -pound fiberglass peach  was dropped at Underground Atlanta. In 2018, it moved to the Flatiron Building. A giant summer fruit as part of a winter holiday countdown? Yes, please.

The Peach Drop was canceled for 2019 and 2020, due to planning issues and then the pandemic. Event organizers are re-evaluating their Peach Drop plans for 2021 and beyond to ensure it remains an amazing event for all of Atlanta to enjoy. 

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Eastover, North Carolina: A Giant Flea

The town of Eastover was once known as “Flea Hill,” which apparently is just cause for dropping a massive replica of the insect during their New Year’s Eve celebration. 

In the 1800s, the community was infested with fleas and was given the unfortunate name of “Flea Hill.” In 2007, the town changed its name to Eastover. Still, since 2010 town leaders have rung in the New Year by dropping a 30-pound ceramic flea, signifying the town’s history. 

The event normally consists of dancing, games for the kids, and plenty of food. This year it isn’t happening at all, online or otherwise, but a representative from the Eastover Civic Club, which sponsors the activities, says they are “hoping and praying for a better 2021.”

Chincoteague, Virginia: The Horseshoe Drop

Pony Island offers—what else?—a giant, sparkling horseshoe as their signifier of the new year. Party-goers dress up in crazy costumes and watch the horseshoe drop in Robert Reed Waterfront Park. 

Chincoteague is known for its wild horses and the feral ponies that live throughout the coastal Virginia area. 

Mobile, Alabama: A Moon Pie

“Moon Pie Over Mobile” is a celebration of the graham-and-marshmallow treat, which is thrown from floats during the Mardi Gras parades that originated in Mobile. Sadly, unlike the Wisconsin cheese, the 600-pound Moon Pie isn’t real or edible. Even more sadly, the entire event was called off for 2020 due to the pandemic. 

Here’s hoping 2021 sees an even bigger pie.