Times Square was eerily quiet as the New Year's Eve ball dropped in New York City last night. It marked the end of a sobering 2020 and a hopeful start to 2021. As the world says good riddance to 2020, here are five things you might not know about some New Year's Eve celebrations from the past...
The Ball Drop Was a Replacement For Fireworks The original New Year’s Eve celebrations in Times Square thrown by the New York Times included a fireworks show at midnight. However, the city government made fireworks illegal in 1907, saying there were safety concerns involved. Adolph Ochs, the owner of the newspaper, replaced the fireworks display with a ball made of iron and wood, studded with light bulbs, and the tradition of the famous New Year's Eve ball drop in NYC was born.
For Two Years, The Ball Wasn’t Dropped World War II was a nerve-wracking time with many soldiers in danger overseas, and people at home worried that the United States might be attacked. The Army was concerned that German submarines might be able to see American ships in New York Harbor because of lights in the city. This is why the Dodgers stopped playing ball at night, the torch was dimmed on the Statue of Liberty, and the ball drop was cancelled in both 1942 and 1943.
Other Cities Drop Some Really Weird Things
The Bourbon St. Pub in Key West, Florida, celebrates the New Year with a gigantic red shoe. Sushi, a local drag queen and icon, climbs into it and the two are lowered to the cheers of revelers. In Eastover, North Carolina, a giant ceramic flea, nicknamed "Jasper," is dropped, followed by the firing off of an 1861 cannon. Jasper seems to be a symbol of the town's triumph over a flea infestation in the distant past.
Mount Olive, North Carolina, home to the Mt. Olive Pickle Company, counts down to the New Year as a giant pickle slides its way down a flagpole.
Spaniards Eat Grapes For Good Luck In Southern states, people eat black-eyed peas, and many families around the nation eat fish or pork for good luck in the coming year. If you saw yesterday's bonus trivia question, you know know that in Spain, the people eat a dozen grapes on New Year’s Eve at midnight. The trick is to eat the entire dozen in twelve seconds, which coincides with the chiming of the church bell.
Teens Crashed a Very Exclusive New Year’s Eve Party In 1938, Joe Measell, age sixteen, and his date, Beatrice White, crashed a White House New Year’s Eve party held by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on a dare by some friends. Because two young sons of Henry Morgenthau, Jr., the then Treasury Secretary, were invited, the Secret Service mistook Measell for one of them, so the teens just waltzed right in under everyone’s noses. They succeeded in their mission and obtained autographs from both the president and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt.