29 Dec 2006

Celebrating the New Year With a Sardine

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The Boston Globe reports on some cities with more colorful approaches than New York’s.

As the 1,070-pound Waterford crystal ball begins its descent in New York’s Times Square on Sunday night, a few hundred souls in Eastport , Maine, 570 miles to the northeast, will lift their eyes and watch their own harbinger of the New Year: a 22-foot-long sardine.

The sardine is a symbol for the easternmost city in the United States, where canneries were once a booming industry. The canneries are gone, and Eastport is known as an artsy seaside community with galleries and a quaint downtown. But the sardine is a new New Year’s Eve tradition.

“We thought it was intriguing enough, bizarre enough, that it might catch some interest,” said Hugh French , director of Eastport’s Tides Institute & Museum of Art , which will lower the sardine on Sunday night.

Eastport is not alone. Across the country, enterprising civic cheerleaders have come up with all manner of local versions of the Times Square countdown.

In North Carolina, Brasstown drops a live opossum in a cage from the top of a country store.

In Pennsylvania, Lebanon drops a massive bologna.

In Florida, Key West boasts three drops within a mile of one another — a conch shell, a woman dressed as a pirate wench, and a drag queen named Sushi, generally ensconced in a red high-heeled shoe.

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