KEY WEST, Fla. — New Year’s Eve revelers tired of cold-weather festivities, like the traditional “ball drop” in New York’s Times Square, flocked to balmy Key West for six offbeat “ball drop” takeoffs — including the “drop” of a renowned drag queen in a super-sized red high-heel shoe.
Lavishly gowned drag diva “Sushi,” otherwise known as Gary Marion, ruled the festivities at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex — seated in a glittering ruby slipper suspended high above spectators on the island city’s famed Duval Street.
Seconds before midnight, the red heel carrying Sushi was lowered from the complex’s balcony toward the crowd below. As midnight struck, she landed and popped the cork on a ceremonial bottle of champagne to welcome 2019.
“It’s become like a worldwide thing,” said Marion as Sushi. “People come to Key West and support Key West, and come to see me in a shoe.
It’s just amazing to be here in the shoe and I love it every year, Sushi said. Crowds also celebrated by watching a gigantic man-made conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, descend to the roof of Sloppy Joe’s Bar. At First Flight Island Restaurant, they applauded the landing of a flight attendant in a replica aircraft, saluting Key West’s heritage as the 1927 birthplace of Pan American Airways.
Also commemorating 2019’s arrival were the “splashdown” of a huge replica Key lime wedge into a giant margarita glass, an offbeat “tuna drop” and the lowering of a pirate wench from atop a tall ship’s mast in Key West’s Historic Seaport.
New Year’s Eve activities elsewhere in the Florida Keys included waterfront fireworks displays in Key Largo and Islamorada, and the “drop” of an anchor at a historic replica lighthouse in Marathon.