Skip Times Square. Try these New Year’s Eve Parties for Boaters
Times Square in New York City is the happening place to welcome the new year, and you could see yourself on national television, but for Gulf Coast boaters, there are other feel-right and, perhaps, feel-warmer options.
One biggie is the Beach Ball Drop at Pier Park in Panama City Beach, Florida. Like in NYC, you can watch the ball drop, but this “beach” ball is an 800-pound Waterford Crystal. If you have young ones in tow be there before 8 PM. That’s when a throng of kids screech and reach to get their hands on a real beach ball when 10,000 of them spill to the ground from overhead netting. Panama City Beach incurred damage from Hurricane Michael, but the event is still a go.
Down in Key West, the signature event is the “Lowering of the Pirate’s Wench” from the mast of the historic tall ship America 2.0 at Schooner’s Wharf. Eat, drink, and be merry. Also, be careful.
Consider cruising over to Orange Beach, Alabama, for Reelin’ in the New Year at The Wharf. The street party includes live bands, family-friendly fun capped off with the marlin drop and fireworks. Yes, marlin. The Wharf Marina has transient slips, but be sure to reserve early.
Up in Mobile Bay, be sure to get a good luck meal of black-eyed peas, collard greens, and Moon Pie. They serve a 55-pound Moon Pie in the courtyard of downtown’s Renaissance Riverview Plaza Hotel. What is Moon Pie? It’s a round confection of marshmallows squeezed between graham cracker cookies, a southern culture goodie traditionally washed down with RC Cola. After dinner, stay awake long enough to help 50,000 others count down the seconds to 2019 while a 600-pound Moon Pie look-alike is lowered into the new year. Stay for the laser light show, too.
New Orleans drops its city symbol, a 25-foot fleur-de-lis, from the roof of Jax Brewery in the French Quarter. Afterward, fireworks light up the riverfront.
By Bill Aucoin, Southern Boating December 2018
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