Drop everything! 17 quirky New Year's Eve events

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Can't travel to Times Square on New Year's Eve? Worry not! Chances are, there's a folksier New Year's Eve celebration that's probably closer to your home.

Communities across the USA ring in each year with local (and awesomely quirky) variations on Times Square's Ball Drop, along with plenty of other things to do.

Celebrating bologna, pickles and muskrats might be a far cry from watching the Waterford crystal ball in Times Square with a million of your closest friends. But smaller celebrations reflect local traditions and civic pride. Plus, you'll have an easier time finding the bathroom.

Here are 17 destinations with fun New Year's Eve drops:

1. Mobile, Alabama: MoonPie drop

MoonPies -- a marshmallow, graham cracker and chocolate coating treat -- are popular across the South. So it makes sense a Southern city wants to give it a drop. In comes Mobile along Alabama's Gulf Coast.

Along with watching a giant, 600-pound electric MoonPie drop, some 50,000 folks gather for a laser show, fireworks and beer garden.

For New Year's Eve 2017, George Clinton is the headline act.

2. Flagstaff, Arizona: Pine cone drop

In Flagstaff, Arizona, revelers fill the streets to watch a 6-foot, lighted aluminum-and-copper pine cone be lowered from the roof of the historic Weatherford Hotel downtown.

Organizers chose a pine cone to represent Flagstaff's mountainous locale amid the largest contiguous Ponderosa pine forest in North America.

Begun in 1999, the event includes two pine cone drops: one at 10 p.m. to coincide with New York's Times Square celebration and another at midnight to mark Arizona's big moment.

Organizers tell people to be sure to dress warmly. Flagstaff tends to be very cold on a winter's night.

3. Fayetteville, Arkansas: Hog drop

They're hog wild for New Year's Eve in Fayetteville, located in picturesque northwest Arkansas. Naturally, the home of the Arkansas Razorbacks would gravitatetoward a hog drop to go along with the fireworks.

Officially called Last Night Fayetteville, the party also features a variety of musicians, actors and comedians in different indoor venues and around the downtown square. If you're driving from out of town, parking is free, and they promise the shows go on -- rain, snow or shine.

4. Temecula Valley, California: Grape drop

Courtesy of Visit Temecula Valley

A cluster of grapes seemed the appropriate centerpiece for a New Year's celebration in Southern California wine country.

Temecula Valley's grape drop features a "custom-crafted, illuminated cluster of grapes [that] descend 65 feet from the third-story patio of the beautiful Civic Center clock tower."

Partygoers begin to gather at nightfall for live music, before the grapes descend with both an East Coast and West Coast countdown.

5. Key West, Florida: Four drops!

ROB O'NEAL/The Citizen

Leave it to Key West to come up with multiple, eccentric drops.

One: Red high heel drop

"Sushi" descends in a giant red high heel shoe from the balcony of the New Orleans House. VIP balcony tickets usually sell out fast, and Duval Street is jammed with people who party into the wee hours.

Two: Lowering of the pirate wench

Visit the tall ship America 2.0 at Schooner Wharf and brace for cannon blasts that herald the new year. You can watch the pirate wench be lowered from the top of the ship while listening to live music and enjoying the scene at Schooner Wharf Bar.

Three: Conch shell drop

The conch shell is an enduring symbol of Key West, and this drop happens above Sloppy Joe's, probably the most famous bar in Key West. Thousands gather to enjoy this annual tradition. If you're not big on crowds, avoid this one.

Four: Chive unicorn drop

Head to The Porch (on Caroline Street not far from the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum), where they'll be dropping a chive unicorn at midnight. They promise "multitudes of tomfoolery throughout the evening."

6. Panama City Beach, Florida: Beach ball drop

Party central of the Florida Panhandle has two countdowns.

The first one is at 8 p.m. for the younger crowd, in which 10,000 inflatable beach balls are dropped from overhead, followed by fireworks. The second one is the midnight countdown, which involves an 800-pound LED-lit beach ball being lowered for the countdown to the new year, followed by more fireworks.

Both take place at Panama City Beach's Pier Park, and musical acts are lined up.

7. Boise, Idaho: Potato drop

Idaho welcomes "SpecTaters" (their words, not ours) to the capitol building in Boise for its annual potato drop.

In addition to the fireworks and potato drop (the slogan is #DropItLikeItsHot), revelers can enjoy wrestling matches, an ice sculpture show, snow park, live music and a dance floor. And there's plenty of food and drink vendors on hand.

8. Vincennes, Indiana: Watermelon drop

Folks in Vincennes, Indiana, celebrate New Year's Eve -- and their locally renowned melons -- with a watermelon drop.

But instead of slowly lowering a glittering sculpture of a melon (boring!), they drop a bunch of actual watermelons that plummet toward the ground and burst open upon a raised wooden "splatform."

You can also catch live music in a heated tent in this southwestern Indiana town on the shores of the Wabash River across from Illinois.

9. Hagerstown, Maryland: Donut drop

mark youngblood

Krumpe's Do-nuts is a local institution in Hagerstown, Maryland, known and loved for its sweet treats since 1934.

Its classic glazed variety is the focal point of Hagerstown's family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration, which started in 2013.

Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with free doughnuts and hot chocolate and end at 7 p.m. with the 6-foot, 300-pound replica descending down the Hagerstown clock tower.

10. Princess Anne, Maryland: Muskrat 'dive' in

Courtesy of Joey Gardner

The muskrat has been trapped for pelts and meat for generations in the Chesapeake Bay region, making it a prime candidate for New Year's Eve mascot. Unlike in other events that use replicas, Marshall Muskrat is the real deal: a stuffed muskrat in top hat and cape.

When the Midnight Muskrat Dive started in 2012, Marshall was lowered in a bucket truck. Now, he slides down a zip line for maximum visibility and audience entertainment.

Have a taste for Maryland oysters? They'll be serving them.

11. Chile drop in Las Cruces, New Mexico

The Las Cruces Chile Drop debuted on December 31, 2014, as an homage to chili growers in the region and New Mexico.

When the big chili returns this year, a crane will drop it like it's hot above Las Cruces' Main Street in the center of town. Also on tap in this southern New Mexico city: Dancing, music, food and a beer garden.

12. Mount Olive, North Carolina: Pickle drop in

Dia Solas Images

Thousands of revelers pack this eastern North Carolina town each December 31 to watch the Mt. Olive Pickle Company celebrate the new year by dropping a 3-foot glowing pickledown a flagpole into a pickle tank.

The event happens outside company headquarters at Cucumber Boulevard and Vine Street (there are also Dill and Relish streets nearby). And good news, sleepyheads: The pickle drop occurs not at the stroke of midnight but at 7 p.m. ET -- that's midnight Greenwich Mean Time -- letting kids and early-to-bed adults join in the fun.

There's also a canned food drive to help feed hungry neighbors.

13. Port Clinton, Ohio: Walleye drop

WPCR

Along the Ohio shoreline of Lake Erie, Port Clinton reels in the New Year with a 20-foot, 600-pound Fiberglas fish modeled after the town mascot, Wylie the Walleye.

Since 1996, residents of the self-proclaimed Walleye Capital of the World have braved freezing temperatures for Walleye Madness at Midnight. Festivities begin in the afternoon and culminate in the lowering of Wylie before midnight, followed by fireworks.

14. Lebanon, Pennsylvania: Bologna drop

Courtesy of Jim Zengerle

Residents of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, ring in the New Year by cheering on a massive cylinder of sandwich meat. After all, it's a longstanding point of pride in the region that bologna made in Lebanon is not your average Oscar Mayer fare.

The butchering, curing and sausage-making processes that distinguish Lebanon bologna from "minced bologna" is the stuff of lengthy academic papers.

Suffice to say, it's enough to make the town's signature export worthy of New Year's Eve reverence.

15. Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania: Wrench drop

Mechanicsburg Chamber of Commerce

The result of an Eagle Scout project by a Mechanicsburg Area School District graduate, this small town west of Harrisburg dropped its first wrench on New Year's Eve in 2004.

The galvanized steel wrench commemorates the mechanics who settled in the area to repair wagons that were traveling west after crossing the Susquehanna River.

This is true tool time: You can buy replica wrenches during the festivities.

16. Folly Beach, South Carolina: Flip flop drop

Since New Year's Eve 2011, an oversized pair of brightly lit flip-flops has been dropped in Folly Beach, near Charleston, in honor of the coastal community's signature footwear.

Center Street closes to vehicle traffic at 10 p.m., and revelers are welcome to move into the street. The flip-flops drop to count down the last 10 seconds before the New Year followed by a fireworks display.

17. Plymouth, Wisconsin: Big cheese drop

Courtesy of Plymouth Arts Center

The Big Cheese Drop in Plymouth, Wisconsin, honors the region's history as former home of the National Cheese Exchange, which helped establish cheese prices until 1955.

The 80-pound metal wedge, which is lowered from a 100-foot truck ladder, is dairy free, but organizers hand out complimentary bags of cheese wedges to the first 250 families in attendance.

The lowering at the Plymouth Arts Center concludes at 10 p.m. to make it a family-friendly affair, but the wine-and-cheese partying continues to midnight.

Check out these photos from across KAKEland snapped by our viewers, staff and local officials. Do you have pictures to share with us? Email them to news@kake.com.

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