Southern Traditions for New Year's Eve

Illustration by Tim Bower
by Steve Russell - December/January 2014

From MoonPies to giant pickles, celebrating the New Year in the South is a unique experience

Sure, Times Square has its giant crystal ball—a New Year's Eve tradition that New York Times owner Adolph Ochs started in the early 1900s to mark the opening of the paper's new headquarters—but when it comes to originality, NYC has nothing on Dixie

Mobile, Alabama
MoonPies, not beads, are the favorite item tossed from the Gulf Coast town’s Mardi Gras floats. Home to the New World’s first Carnival, Mobile drops a large-scale replica of the sweet Southern treat each New Year’s Eve.

Fayetteville, Arkansas
Home to thousands of dedicated Razorback fans, the Arkansas college town saw no reason not to include its beloved mascot in its annual celebration—a locally sculpted, winged hog drops in Fayetteville Square at midnight.

Key West, Florida
When legendary Key West drag queen Sushi first descended from the balcony of Bourbon Street Pub in a giant ruby-red high heel made of papier-mâché and two-by-fours, it sparked a tradition that still draws a crowd sixteen years later. Because, well, why not?

Miami, Florida
Never one to conform, Miami kicks off its annual festivities by raising a thirty-five-foot neon orange to the top of the InterContinental Miami hotel, backed by fireworks and live music from nearby Bayfront Park.

Atlanta, Georgia
Hailed as the largest New Year’s Eve celebration in the Southeast, Atlanta’s Peach Drop regularly draws more than 100,000 revelers to witness the eight-foot, 800-pound fruit’s descent at Underground Atlanta.

Havre De Grace, Maryland
Fiercely loyal to the area industry, one buoyed by duck hunting and hand-carved decoys, the tiny coastal town lowers an illuminated decoy—designed by a local carver—to honor the favored waterfowl each year.

Mount Olive, North Carolina
What started off as a joke among a few Mt. Olive Pickle Company employees quickly became an institution in the company’s small-town home base. Today, residents ring in each New Year by plunging a three-foot, brightly lit pickle into a redwood pickle tank.