Southern cities with their own twist on the ball drop

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Photo credits: (clockwise) Mobile: Tad Denson – MyShotz.com, Mount Olive, New Orleans.

Sure, you can start planning for a Times Square New Year's Eve trip at least a year in advance, and spend the WHOLE DAY in the freezing Manhattan cold to witness the dropping of the iconic ball. Or, you can stay warm and cozy in your home watching the same ball drop. But you've done that before, right? It's not too late to do something a little different this year to ring in 2018. Here in the South we have our share of ball drops, sure, but we also like to show off our personality a little – especially when there's a chance that out-of-towners and newcomers might be in attendance. Read on and find out all the places throughout the South who have their own spin on saying goodbye to 2017 and hello to 2018.

Alabama


Mobile: The lowering of a 600-pound, lit Moon Pie is merely the finale of a full day of revelry at Moon Pie over Mobile. Other events include the cutting of the largest edible Moon Pie in the world, a second-line parade, and a music festival headlined this year by George Clinton. Why Moon Pies? They're a traditional throw during Mardi Gras, which predates New Orleans' Mardi Gras celebrations.

Wetumpka: This small city near Montgomery commemorates something big each New Year. A meteorite is dropped at the Old Courthouse annually in honor of the meteor that fell to earth 84 million years ago, leaving a 5-mile-wide crater and what is considered Alabama's greatest natural disaster.

Arkansas

Fayetteville: Eight stages of music gets the crowd pumped for the main event – the dropping of a stuffed, illuminated hog at midnight. It's all part of the Last Night Fayetteville celebration.

Florida

Florida is split between Central and Eastern Time Zones.

Eastern Time Zone
Key West: You have a couple of options if you decide to venture all the way down to Key West for New Years. At Sloppy Joe's Bar, the “traditional” dropping of the Conch Shell happens, while at theChive, it's a unicorn. The Lowering of the Pirate Wench happens at Schooner Wharf, and drag queen Sushi descends from the balcony of the New Orleans House in a giant red high heel.

Miami: The New Years celebration in Bayfront Park is called the largest free event in Southern Florida. You might think that Pitbull headlining the show would be the biggest draw, but for many locals, it's seeing their beloved and iconic 35-foot “Big Orange” (Florida is known for its orange exports, after all) rise 400 feet to the top of the Intercontinental Hotel and then drop at midnight.

Orlando: Don't want to travel all the way to Miami? Orlando has its own Orange Drop as part of a block party on Church Street.

Sarasota, Florida: A glowing pineapple is the fruit of choice in Sarasota. This annual free event, which also includes live music, concession stands and amusement rides, takes place in downtown Sarasota. A fireworks display over Sarasota Bay caps off the evening.

Central Time Zone
Panama City: Live music at this free, family-friendly celebration starts at 5:30 p.m. kids will want to stay for the 8 p.m. dropping of 10,000 beach balls and a fireworks display, even if they can't stay awake for the dropping of the giant illuminated beach ball at midnight followed by more fireworks.

Pensacola: Another free event along Florida's Gulf Coast is the Pelican Drop in downtown Pensacola. Details of the Countdown to 2018 event have not been released yet.

Georgia

Atlanta: Probably one of the most well-known New Year's Eve celebrations, the Peach Drop up until last year occurred at the Underground. To ring in 2018, however, revelers will need to go somewhere else. While a new location hasn't been announced (even at this late date), rumors are circulating that it'll be just a few blocks away at Woodruff Park with the peach dropping from the side of the Flatiron Building.

Macon: The city hosts an International Cherry Blossom Festival each spring, with cherry blossom-themed events sprinkled throughout the year. For New Year's Eve, a 6-foot wide lighted ball made of metal cherry blossoms covered in pink lights is the star of the show.

Savannah: In a decidedly Savannah twist on the traditional ball drop, the ball is replaced with a to-go cup, and it's raised, not lowered. Put it all together, and you have the annual Up the Cup Countdown hosted by Savannah Waterfront Association on historic River Street.

Tallapoosa: Filed under “We have to see this once in our lives,” this West Georgian town was originally named Possum Snout. To honor their heritage, the citizens of Tallapoosa drop a stuffed possum in a ball covered in holiday lights each year instead of a ball. Oh, and there's food and music, too. But you'd come for just the possum, right?

Louisiana

New Orleans: Head down to Jackson Square early if you want to view the annual dropping of the fleur-de-lis. You'll also get the chance to hear live music, watch fireworks, and see a simulcast of the Times Square celebration (after the New Orleans celebration is aired as the New Years' Rockin' Eve Central Time Zone celebration) as part of the free event open to the public.

North Carolina

Carolina Beach/Kure Beach: A free, family-friendly celebration is scheduled, which includes a DJ, dancing, a giant beach ball drop, followed by fireworks. The Pleasure Island celebration rotates between the two beaches, with the 2017 celebration happening at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk.

Charlotte: The Queen City shows off its royal roots with a lighted crown that is raised, not lowered, at midnight to symbolize the “rising of a new year.”

Marion: The mountain town celebrates its Gold Rush history with a lighted gold nugget in place of a ball for its free New Year's Eve celebration.

Morehead City: The coast being the coast, the item dropped at the stroke of midnight is, well, coastal. A crab pot is dropped. A drop just for kids happens at 6 p.m., with the free celebration including stilt walkers, magicians and fireworks.

Mount Olive: Since 1999, the lighted, three-foot New Year's Eve Pickle has been lowered down the Mt. Olive Pickle Company flagpole at 7 p.m., which corresponds to Greenwich Mean Time. In addition to music and entertainment, the free celebration includes a canned food drive to benefit the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina.

Raleigh: The City of Oaks celebrates the New Year with a huge downtown celebration each year culminating in the lowering of a 900-pound copper-and-steel acorn.

Tennessee

Memphis: A 10-foot guitar drops 100 feet over Beale Street at midnight as part of the city's music-packed celebration.

Nashville: Music City goes all out for the New Year. The free event is packed annually with musical stars, and this year is no different with a lineup that includes Keith Urban, Maren Morris and Cheap Trick. At midnight a 15-foot music note covered in 100 feet of lights is lowered 145 feet over Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park in downtown Nashville.

After searching, I still couldn't find unusual NYE celebrations in Mississippi, South Carolina, Virginia or West Virginia. Did I miss any in those states? And did I miss any other only-in-the-South NYE celebrations in the other states? Let me know!

My Favorite Travel Quotes

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I love inspirational quotes. It's a weakness, I know. And if those inspirational quotes are about traveling...well, I'm a goner! Read through 25 of my favorite travel quotes and see if any of them spark a desire to explore new locations. Don't worry – a part 2 (and maybe parts 3,4, etc.) will be coming soon. In the meantime, download some wallpaper for your computer or pin these to Pinterest

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1: “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other places, other lives, other souls.” – Anais Nin

2: “No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.” – Chuck Thompson

3: “Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R. Tolkien

4: “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Andre Gide

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5: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – H. Jackson Browne's mom (really)

6: “Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” – Ray Bradbury

7: “Traveling tends to magnify all human emotions.” — Peter Hoeg

8: “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” -Martin Buber

9: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch

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10: “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

11: “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan Sontag

12: “A great way to learn about your country is to leave it.” -Henry Rollins

13: “A ship in a harbor is safe, but it not what ships are build for.” -John A. Shedd

14: “I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

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15: “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.” – Anita Desai

16: “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Gustave Flaubert

17: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine

18: “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” – Ibn Battuta

19: “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home.” – James Michener

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20: “I’m in love with cities I’ve never been to and people I’ve never met.” - John Green

21: “People don’t take trips, trips take people.” – John Steinbeck

22: “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

23: “Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” – Anonymous

24: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” – Anonymous

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25: “Oh the places you’ll go.” – Dr. Seuss

What about you? What are your favorite quotes? Let me know in the comments below. And don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to stay up to date on new posts.

Photo credits: 1: Savannah; 5: Key West; 10: Nashville, TN; 15: Bywater, New Orleans; 20: Sarasota, FL; 25: Colonial Williamsburg