New Year’s Eve: Let It Drop!

Many of us wait up until midnight to watch the ball drop from Time’s Square in New York City. But a lot of other cities participate in New Year’s Eve celebrations, and some of them drop some very strange things, such as in that “other” Manhattan (“The Little Apple” as opposed to “The Big Apple”), in Kansas, where a giant red delicious apple is dropped at midnight from a building at the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Broadway.

Other cities drop other oversized items: Atlanta, Georgia drops an 800-pound peach; Gainesville Georgia (“the poultry capital of the world”) drops a chicken; Plymouth, Wisconsin drops a big block of cheese at midnight. Prescott, Arizona drops a cowboy boot and Show Low, Arizona drops a two of clubs. Pennsylvania probably has the biggest number of unusual drops, including a giant wooden sled (Duncannon, Pennsylvania), a giant marshmallow Peep (Bethlehem, Pennsylvania), a 700-pound stainless steel mushroom (outside of Philadelphia), a 16-foot Lebanon Bologna in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, a giant strawberry in Harrisburg, and a giant crayon in Easton, inter alia.

Boot drop in Prescott, Arizona

Boot drop in Prescott, Arizona

A relatively new popular event takes place in Mobile, Alabama. Ever since New Year’s Eve in 2008, a twelve-foot tall electronic MoonPie is dropped from a 34-story building. The event is known as “MoonPie Over Mobile.” (A traditional MoonPie consists of two round graham cracker cookies with marshmallow filling in the center, dipped in chocolate.)

MoonPie Over Mobile

MoonPie Over Mobile

Chattanooga Bakery started making MoonPies in 1917, in response to a request from local coal miners who wanted something they could eat without stopping for an actual break which they couldn’t take. When the bakery salesman asked how big this treat should be, a miner held out his hands, framed the moon, and said, “About that big!”

220px-Moon-Pie-Single

You may ask, isn’t Chattanooga in Tennessee? Why does a MoonPie drop in Mobile? The answer is related to Mobile’s Mardi Gras celebration. Mardi Gras in Mobile is the oldest annual Carnival celebration in the United States, having started in 1703. This was fifteen years before New Orleans was founded, although today the celebrations in New Orleans are more widely known. (Mobile, it should be noted, was the first capital of French Louisiana, which is not the same thing as The Louisiana Territory. A map of French Louisiana is shown below).

French Louisiana was the name of French-controlled land in North America; this map shows territorial holdings in around 1750.

French Louisiana was the name of French-controlled land in North America; this map shows territorial holdings in around 1750.

In Mobile, some 33 different groups stage the major parades each year for Mardi Gras over a three-week periods.

Cache of Mobile Mardi Gras throws

Cache of Mobile Mardi Gras throws

During the parades, members of societies (“krewes”) on floats toss gifts known as throws to the public, that might include plastic beads, doubloon coins, decorated plastic cups, candy, wrapped cakes/snacks, stuffed animals, and small toys, footballs, frisbees, or whistles. It used to be that Cracker Jacks were thrown, but their rectangular boxes could injure people, and they were banned in the early Seventies. MoonPies had been used by some as throws since the 1950‘s, but after the Cracker Jack ban, the soft wrapped treat took over as the signature throw. In 2012, more than 3 million Moon Pies were tossed from floats. With the MoonPie now being an unofficial emblem of Mobile, and Mardi Gras being very big business in Mobile, the MoonPie was first used for the New Year’s Eve drop in 2008. In addition, the Chattanooga Bakery creates a giant edible MoonPie to carve up for partiers.

50-pound MoonPie served to revelers on Dec. 30, 2008, in downtown Mobile

50-pound MoonPie served to revelers on Dec. 30, 2008, in downtown Mobile

Happy New Year!!!

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10 Responses to New Year’s Eve: Let It Drop!

  1. BermudaOnion says:

    I don’t think they drop anything around here. I’d be in bed at midnight but there will be so many fireworks going off there isn’t any point in it. Happy New Year!

  2. I am very impressed with the research you did to come up with all of these New Year’s Eve traditions.

  3. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea says:

    I remember those Moon Pies (don’t think I could eat one today, but as a child yumm). We went to an early movie Big Eyes (based on a true story – awesome) and will have pizza in a bit.

    Happy New Year Jill

  4. Belle Wong says:

    I’ve never had a Moon Pie before! I don’t think they drop anything around here. Happy new year, Jill!

  5. Laurie C says:

    We stayed up till midnight at a party but the countdown got kind of messed up because the clocks in the room were fast! I remember moon pies, too, although I don’t know if we called them something else. Mallo Pies?

  6. Beth F says:

    Fun post!! There is some kind of even downtown here with ice sculptures and music. But we just stay at home with friends.

  7. litandlife says:

    Good lord, what a lot of silly traditions!

  8. stacybuckeye says:

    That last moonpie looks good to me!

  9. sagustocox says:

    My dad used to love Moon Pies! I think these traditions are hilarious.

  10. jilllora says:

    Hmmm, maybe I should go to Mobile.

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