Times Square in New York City has been home to the annual New Year’s Eve ball drop since 1907, 104 years total. (The ball did not drop in 1942-43 due to WWII blackouts.) Thousands of people from all over the world meet in Times Square every year to ring in the New Year in a seemingly odd celebration. Well, it’s time for New York to take a back seat for once. This year, the Borough of Kennett Square, Pennsylvania is starting a New Year’s celebration of its own – the dropping of a giant mushroom.
Kennett Square, Pa is known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World,” and rightly so; Mushroom farms in Southern Chester County account for 65% of the mushrooms consumed in the United States every year. Not only that, but Kennett Square hosts an annual Mushroom Festival, the mission of which is “to promote the mushroom, educate consumers about the health benefits of mushrooms and to promote tourism in Southern Chester County, all while financially supporting local and regional charities through a grant process.” Since its inception in 1985, the Mushroom Festival has given over $500,000 back to the community, raising $65,000 during the 2012 festival alone.
The dropping of the giant mushroom, which will measure 8 feet by 7.5 feet and weight over 700 pounds, will be the culminating activity of the “Midnight in the Square” event taking place in downtown Kennett Square. Kathi Lafferty, the coordinator of the annual Mushroom Festival, stated that she was encouraged to pursue this venture by state representative John Lawrence.
When asked why the town had chosen to drop a giant mushroom, Lafferty responded in the only way appropriate: “Being the mushroom capital of the world, I don’t know, why not.”
As absurd as it is, the dropping of a giant mushroom is not the most outlandish New Year drop in the United States. Pennsylvania is home to at least 48 different drops alone, ranging from items such as a giant Peep in Bethlehem, Pa to a beaver in Beavertown, Pa, and even a yellow pair of “britches” in Lisburn, Pa.
Other insane New Year’s drops include a 3 foot tall wooden flea in Eastover, North Carolina, a sardine in Eastport, Maine, a live opossum in Brasstown, North Carolina, and a a drag queen wearing a large, red high heel in Key West, Florida.[Image via The Mushroom Festival Website]