The Keystone State is home to dozens of municipalities that hold public New Year’s Eve events where towns drop an item of interest during the countdown to the new year. It’s likely that Pennsylvania is home to the most municipalities that drop items of any state in the U.S.
Most of the towns are located in Central and Eastern Pennsylvania, but a few Western Pennsylvania towns have also joined the item dropping tradition. Many items dropped are peculiar, but not wholly unexpected. Hershey drops a Hershey Kiss and Bethlehem, home to the Just Born candy company, drops a giant Peep marshmallow. Basically, all of the items dropped have a connection to local history or renown, but some items are pretty weird and would surely shock out-of-towners.
Here are 12 of the weirdest items dropped on New Year’s Eve in towns across Pennsylvania.
Purple-and-gold ShoeAkron, Lancaster County
The small town, which is headquartered to Mennonite Central Committee, holds a “Shoe-in” every New Year’s Eve, where a festival is held and people donate children’s shoes for those in need. Then, at midnight, a giant purple-and-gold shoe is dropped.
Model GazeboBradford, McKean County
The small city in Northwestern Pennsylvania was founded as an oil boom town, but decided in 2019 to start dropping a model and light-up gazebo for its First Night celebration on New Year’s Eve. A festival precedes the drop.
Two Different PicklesDillsburg, York County
It does make sense for a town called Dillsburg to drop a pickle for New Year’s Eve, and that is what the York County town does, but it also does it twice. First is the Lil’ Dill drop a 7 p.m. for the kids, and in celebration of Dillsburg’s Irish founders, then a pickle dressed up with a top hat, aka Mr. Pickle, is dropped at midnight.
Haines Shoe House ReplicaHellam, York County
The small Central Pennsylvania borough is most known for its Haines Shoe House, which is an actual house in the shape of a work boot that was built by shoe salesman Mahlon Haines in 1948 as a form of advertisement. In honor of the local landmark, the borough drops a replica of the shoe house on New Year’s Eve.
Three-foot Pac-ManHanover, York County
Most drops in Pennsylvania are in homage to a local icon, but not Hanover. The borough really just wanted to get in on the dropping tradition, so in 2013, a local arcade owner named Brandon Spencer “noticed there weren't any drops in Hanover and thought it would be a fun thing to do,” according to Hanover's Evening Sun.
Pair of Yellow PantsLisburn, Cumberland County
Since Yellow Breeches Creek runs through the small Central Pennsylvania village, the residents drop a pair of yellow pants, or “britches,” at midnight.
A French FryIckesburg, Perry County
The Ickesburg Firehouse is known to host many community get-togethers, complete with food, including their famous french fries. To honor that community asset, residents of the village designated a french fry guy to cover himself in lights and a fire helmet, and then drop a french fry to ring in the new year.
Hartley's Potato Chips BagLewistown, Mifflin County
Potatoes get the New Year’s Eve treatment again as this borough honors its local snack company and drops a bag of Hartley’s Potato Chips at midnight. Pennsylvania is the snack food state, after all.
Ice Cream CakeMcVeytown, Mifflin County
The small town in Central Pennsylvania has a beloved restaurant and ice cream parlor that provides the food for a New Year’s Eve celebration at the firehouse. Then, at midnight, the town drops an ice cream cake.
WrenchMechanicsburg, Cumberland County
The town is named after mechanics so naturally it drops a wrench on New Year’s Eve. The event commemorates the town's founders and has been a tradition since 2003.
Sprint CarPort Royal, Juniata County
Not too far away, the mechanics theme continues in Port Royal, which drops a full- sized Sprint Car at midnight. This is to honor the speedway located in town.
A Chunk of CoalShamokin, Northumberland County
No Keystone State New Year’s Eve could be complete without honoring one of the most Pennsylvania things ever: coal. The black rock once fueled much of the state’s economy, with anthracite coal in the North East, and bituminous coal in the Southwest and surroundings. Founded as a coal town, Shamokin honors that history with a coal drop at midnight. And when it hits the bottom, it turns into a diamond.