New Year’s Eve revelers in the subtropical Florida Keys can welcome 2017 with four offbeat warm-weather takeoffs on New York City’s chilly Times Square “ball drop” — including the “drop” of a female impersonator in a super-sized red high heel — as well as fireworks over Keys waters.
As midnight approaches Saturday, Dec. 31, thousands of people are expected to greet the new year on Key West’s famed Duval Street by enjoying an offbeat island tradition dubbed the “Red Shoe Drop.” Renowned drag queen Sushi stars in the festivities, perched in a gigantic red high-heel shoe suspended above the crowds at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St.
Seconds before the 2017’s arrival Sushi, dressed in a lavish handmade gown and riding in the glittering shoe, is to be lowered from the balcony of the complex as spectators cheer. Live entertainment by female impersonators and other top Keys and visiting talents adds to the frivolity. VIP tickets for a private balcony party are available beginning Dec. 1, but space is limited. Visit bourbonstpub.com/newyearseve.
Party people on lower Duval Street can watch the “drop” of a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, to the flat roof of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, 201 Duval St. Events during the annual “Dropping of the Conch Shell” are emceed by a rooftop host and feature a countdown to midnight recorded on a huge clock. Live music inside Sloppy Joe’s adds to the enjoyment. Visit sloppyjoes.com.
In Key West’s Historic Seaport, New Year’s Eve merriment salutes the island’s colorful seafaring heritage. Just before midnight, as cannons boom, a pirate wench is to be lowered from the top of the tall ship America 2.0’s mast — completing her descent as the clock strikes and 2017 officially begins. The event includes live music by the high-energy band Sushi Roll, dancing and festivities at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St. Visit schoonerwharf.com.
At the Ocean Key Resort & Spa, 0 Duval St. on Key West Harbor, plans call for a huge replica of a Key lime wedge to splash down into a larger-than-life margarita glass as crowds welcome 2017 on the property’s Sunset Pier. The free event features live entertainment by local favorites the E’Claires and Happy Dog, followed by the Robert Albury Band. For information, call 305-296-7701.
Revelers in the Upper Keys’ Islamorada can ring in the new year with midnight fireworks on the Atlantic Ocean beach at the luxurious Cheeca Lodge & Spa, located at mile marker (MM) 82 oceanside. Attractions include live music, dancing on the beach and a gourmet dinner. Visit cheeca.com or call 305-517-4447.
At the head of the Keys island chain in Key Largo, a New Year’s Eve fireworks extravaganza is to illuminate the sky above Blackwater Sound. The sparkling display is best viewed at Sundowners, Jimmy Johnson’s Big Chill, Señor Frijoles, Cactus Jack’s, the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort and the Caribbean Club, all located around MMs 103-104. Visit keylargofireworks.com.