Everyone knows about the ball that gets dropped on New Year's Eve in Times Square. Maybe you've even heard about the 800-pound peach that gets dropped in Atlanta at midnight on Dec. 31.
But you may not have heard about the dropping of the sausage, or the gumbo pot, or the giant Peep, a 25-pound fiberglass replica of the famed marshmallowy candy made in Pennsylvania.
TripAdvisor.com has assembled a list of these and other quirky things that get lowered on Dec. 31 around the country to mark the arrival of the new year.
• The Peep show is in Bethlehem, Pa., marking the third time the city has dropped the illuminated treat from a crane at midnight as part of a family-friendly First Night celebration.
• Also in Pennsylvania, in the town of Lebanon, a 7-foot edible bologna made by the Weaver-Kutztown Bologna Co. is lowered at midnight and then donated to area charities.
• In Key West you can watch: a conch shell lowered on a pole to the roof of Sloppy Joe's Bar; the lowering of "Drag Queen Sushi" in a 6-foot-tall shoe at the Bourbon Street Pub; and the descent of a costumed pirate "wench" from a schooner in the harbor.
• Mount Olive, N.C., has a pickle drop with a 3-foot-high pickle plunging down the Mount Olive Pickle Co.'s flagpole into a tank.
• Raleigh, N.C., lowers a massive copper acorn weighing 1,250 pounds from atop the city's civic center as part of a First Night event.
• A giant gumbo pot is lowered in New Orleans to mark the New Year, along with fireworks on the Mississippi.
• In Easton, Md., a giant crab is what gets lowered as part of a First Night celebration, and in Plymouth, Wis., it's a great big hunk of cheese — though not an edible hunk.
Riding the dog for cheap
Greyhound is offering a package of special fares and discounts for purchase online or in bus terminals with no blackout dates.
The deals are:
• Three companions can travel at 50 percent off with the purchase of one adult standard walk-up fare. A three-day advance purchase is required.
• Ten-day advance purchase fares are 75 percent off adult standard walk-up fare; 250 tickets are available for purchase daily.
• Tickets purchased online are 20 percent off adult standard walk-up fare.
• For all tickets sold in terminals through Jan. 5, a coupon will automatically print for a 20 percent discount for a trip Jan. 6 through March 31.
Get details at www.greyhound.com.
Offbeat spots for a stay
What do tree houses, prisons, igloos, lighthouses, yurts and castles all have in common?
According to Unusual Hotels of the World, accommodations of one sort or another can be found in any of these types of dwellings.
There are igloos and ice hotels renting rooms in cold places around the globe, from Finland to Quebec. Tree house accommodations can also be found in a variety of countries, from India to Germany, and there are several right here in the United States, including the Out'n'About Treesort in Cave Junction, Ore., and Winvian, near Litchfield, Conn. You'll find accommodations in caves in Turkey, Spain and other places, among them the Beckham Creek Cave Haven in Parthenon, Ark., and in lighthouses like the East Brother Light Station in Point Richmond, Calif.
To search for other offbeat places to stay, visit unusualhotelsoftheworld.com.
South Florida adventures
Looking for some adventure in the state you're in? South Florida Adventures magazine has some recommendations.
They include mountain biking at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah; exploring the byways of the Tamiami Trail, including Turner River Road and the Florida Trail; diving reefs and wrecks off South Florida, including Sky Cliff near Boynton Beach and the French and Molasses reefs off Key Largo; biking from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale along A1A; and trying a stand-up paddleboarding workout, a fitness craze that literally consists of standing on a board and paddling your way through calm water.
Details at www.southfloridaadventures.com.
Oh, the places we'll go!
According to the staff at Lonely Planet guidebooks, here are some of the countries, besides our own, we'll want to visit in 2009:
Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Spain, Italy, Costa Rica, Iceland, Colombia and the UK.
And the top international tour destination, according to a survey by the U.S. Tour Operators Association, is Italy. Egypt was second, the first time the country has shown up in that category for the survey, and Latin America, for the first time, was named most popular international region. The most popular U.S. region for packaged travel was the West and the national parks, followed by Alaska and Vegas.
Compiled from Times wires