Plenty of cities will be dropping the ball this year – that is a New Year’s Eve ball.
For folks who are seeking a live event but can’t make it to New York City, there are several options within a short drive. Not everyone drops a ball to count down the seconds just before the coming new year. Many cities outside the Big Apple use a variety of local symbols unique to their area.
Pascagoula will host its first midnight drop this year. Its emblem is a lighted anchor that will be dropped from the City Centre building located at 3207 Magnolia Street. The anchor signifies the city’s longtime maritime culture.
“Every vessel that ever sailed our waters was useless without an anchor to hold its position as the currents swept past. We feel our anchors symbolize hope, steadfastness, calm, security, and composure,” Mayor Jay Willis said.
The first-ever event is sponsored by Pascagoula Main Street. Susannah Northrop is the executive director of the association and is the person who dreamed the idea for the anchor drop. The event kicks off at 8 p.m. with musical entertainment throughout the downtown area. Fireworks will follow the anchor drop. Other towns along the Mississippi Gulf Coast have also begun hosting live New Year’s Eve events with signature “drops.” Ocean Springs drops a ball. Bay St. Louis drops an oyster.
In nearby Mobile, a 12-foot-tall lighted mechanical moon pie will be lowered upon the approach of midnight to celebrate the coming of the new year. This tradition began on New Year’s Eve in 2008. Each year, the giant 600-pound moon pie descends the 34-story RSA Bank Trust building in downtown Mobile. Laser light shows and epic fireworks follow the drop. Earlier in the evening an assortment of musical entertainers perform in the vicinity and the world’s largest moon pie is cut and served to the public as part of the festivities. The event is free and about 50,000 revelers attend each year. Mobile selected the moon pie as it is the favored “throw” of the hundreds of Mardi Gras maskers riding floats throughout the extensive Mardi Gras parade season. Moon pies were first thrown from these floats in 1952. Nowadays, Mobile residents and tourists consume more than four million moon pies annually. The city has adopted the sweet treat as its informal emblem.
Still the New York City ball drop is the premier, quintessential event. And, in my opinion, there is no better way to watch Manhattan’s Times Square ball drop than to do it virtually via television in the comfort of home. Viewers can tune in to their TV or online devices to see the broadcasting from multiple camera feeds and to see reports of celebrations from around the globe. An added bonus for south Mississippians is that we can view the Times Square drop at 11 p.m. Central Standard Time, an hour earlier than watching it in person.
New York’s iconic ball drops at midnight Eastern Standard Time as it has since 1907. There have only been two years without a ball drop. Those were 1942 and 1943 when the ceremony was suspended due to wartime dimouts during World War II. Yet, citizens still gathered those years at the square to greet each other and wish one another a happy new year. Live musical performances, behind-the-scenes stories, and star-studded interviews highlight the night’s entertainment as anticipation builds for the 12,000-pound ball’s descension at One Times Square.
The actual notion of dropping a ball to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year’s Eve was ever celebrated in Time Square. The first “time-ball” was installed atop England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This ball would drop at one o’clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers, an essential navigational instrument.
Whether it’s a ball, an anchor, or a moon pie, multitudes of revelers will be dropping something this New Year’s Eve and that includes dropping 2023. Hello, 2024!