Out With A Bang.

Source: tumgir

My earliest memory of New Year’s Eve being a big event was when I was eight or nine. My parents were out for the evening and I was at home with a babysitter. I don’t remember which babysitter, but I do remember that at some point she either turned on coverage of the party in New York’s Times Square or it just came on because at that time the TV only had five channels—the main three networks, PBS, and the local UHF station that subsisted on Elvis and Jerry Lewis movies and whatever reruns they could get for cheap.

What stuck with me was a commentator who pointed to the giant ball and yelled, “At exactly midnight that ball will drop!” He seemed really excited about it, as though it had never happened before and not an annual event that had been a tradition since 1907. I may be old but I’m not that old. Maybe it was his first time covering the event. Maybe he was a local guy who’d just gotten hired to do the news and was excited about that, although we were in Nashville so, if the ball drop were broadcast live, we’d see it happen at eleven p.m. local time, an hour before the new year started. That was okay with me, though; I think my parents were going to be home before midnight and I wanted to see the ball drop. And I thought it was really going to drop straight to the ground and shatter into a million pieces. It seemed like kind of a waste, and potentially dangerous, but I still thought that would be a really cool thing to see. When it just dropped several feet and stopped I was disappointed, and didn’t care that I was seeing it an hour before midnight and would be asleep by the time the old year officially rolled over into the new.

Source: eventcrazy

The New York Times ball was inspired by time balls which were historically used to signal to ships at sea, and a lot of other places have adopted similar traditions. Nashville had a giant guitar that dropped in front of the Hard Rock Cafe but that was changed to a musical note. And last year we had a bona fide explosion, although that was on Christmas, and I don’t think anyone wants to make it a tradition. Eastover, North Carolina drops a giant wooden flea, Havre de Grace, Maryland, drops a big duck, and both Chagrin Falls and Marion in Ohio drop giant popcorn balls. Pensacola, Florida, drops a giant pelican, and in Bartlesville, Oklahoma it’s a big olive, although I think Tallapoosa, Georgia takes the prize with a taxidermied roadkill possum named Spencer.

There are other odd ones but most places that have notable New Year’s drops just drop balls, which makes sense. The Earth is round and keeps spinning and moving along its elliptical orbit no matter how we mark the time. By the time the confetti and glitter are swept up the new year has become just the year, and the older I get the shorter the years seem to get, although a year is still a pretty long time. I’m not that old. So I’m not wishing anyone a happy new year. I’m wishing everyone a happy year.

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12 Comments

  1. Supernatural Hippie

    Cool cosmic video there at the end. 🌟

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      It seemed fitting for the year’s end, a time that, I think, reminds us we’re all just hitchhikers in this galaxy.

      Reply
  2. Rivergirl

    Because nothing says Happy New Year like roadkill opossum? Florida is a strange place…
    🤣

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’ve read half a dozen or so Carl Hiaasen novels and also have parents who live in Florida and who assure me his works aren’t really that far from the truth. Yeah, Florida is a very strange place, and from what I’ve heard about Key West it gets weirder the farther down you go.

      Reply
  3. Rivet

    Because nothing says Happy New Year like roadkill opossum?
    Florida is a weird place.
    🤣

    Reply
  4. markbialczak

    Watching Ryan Seacrest and his fellow screaming heads last night, Chris, the dogged camera crew bestowed upon my dear wife Karen and I (and who knows how many millions of let’s-stay-in-our-living-room viewers from coast to coast) a far back shot of that soon-to-drop ball perched way up there. My immediate thought was: How small is that! And further for the screaming Planet Fitness gear gathering throng: I went to Times Square and couldn’t even see the ball drop!! Anyway, Happy New Year 2022 now that we have way more than three networks, PBS and the high-number rerun channel that I also recall.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I think you’re lucky, Mark, that you got to be there once, even if you couldn’t see the ball drop. The fact that it just falls a few feet makes the whole thing seem pretty anticlimactic, which is why I didn’t even bother staying up to watch it, but I’m glad you and Karen had a wonderful time.

      Reply
  5. mydangblog

    I didn’t realize that there were things other than balls that were dropped! I guess if we did that up here, it would be a giant bottle of maple syrup or a huge beaver! Happy New Year, Christopher!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Funny you should say that because in St. Andrews, New Brunswick, they drop a red maple leaf, and in Beavertown, Pennsylvania they drop a large stuffed beaver.

      Reply
  6. mydangblog

    I’m trying to post a comment but it keeps saying I’ve already posted it. But just in case, here’s what I said: I didn’t realize that there were things other than balls that were dropped! I guess if we did that up here, it would be a giant bottle of maple syrup or a huge beaver! Happy New Year, Christopher!
    mydangblog recently posted…Dem Bones, Dem BonesMy Profile

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      There was something weird going on with the comments and yours kept going to the spam folder. I’m trying to be more assiduous now.

      Reply
  7. ANN J KOPLOW

    Thanks for dropping another great blog post for everyone, Chris. And I’m happy to be sharing this newish year with you.

    Reply

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