KEY WEST DAZZLES NEW YEAR’S EVE WITH ISLAND ‘DROPS’ TO RING IN 2022

Every year on New Year’s Eve, pirate wench Evalena Worthington, owner of Schooner Wharf Bar, descends the mast of a stately tall ship to ring in the new year. FLORIDA KEYS NEWS BUREAU/Contributed

New Year’s Eve partiers unwilling to endure cold-weather festivities, such as the traditional “ball drop” in New York’s Times Square, can find equally exuberant celebrations — and far warmer temperatures in the Florida Keys.

Key West revelers can choose from several lighthearted takeoffs on the Times Square gala as midnight approaches on Friday, Dec. 31.

At the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St., renowned female impersonator Sushi stars in the “Red Shoe Drop” for the 24th year. Seconds before midnight, a super-sized red high heel carrying the elaborately gowned Sushi will be lowered from the complex’s balcony toward the cheering crowd below.

As well as Sushi’s lively banter prior to the “drop,” spectators can enjoy performances by notable female impersonators and other local and national talents on a street-side stage. The show has frequently been featured on the national television coverage of New Year’s Eve with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. 

Party people on lower Duval Street can watch the “drop” of a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, to the roof of Sloppy Joe’s Bar, 201 Duval St. As a huge clock counts down, the supersized shell begins to descend. 

At the Key West Historic Seaport, New Year’s Eve centers around the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St., and celebrates the island’s colorful seafaring heritage. Just before midnight a swashbuckling  “pirate wench” swings from the mast of a tall ship — completing her descent as the clock strikes and cannons boom to welcome 2022. New Year’s Eve festivities also are planned at the original home of Pan American World Airways featuring the midnight “flight” of a “stewardess” in a replica Pan Am aircraft. Today called First Flight Island Restaurant & Brewery, the structure now located at 301 Whitehead St. was the place where Pan Am’s first tickets were sold in 1927. Other attractions include a full open bar, champagne, chef-manned food stations and live music. Attendees are encouraged to wear 1920s Gatsby-era costumes. For information and ticketing visit firstflightkw.com/nye.

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