All Hail Chuck the Chicken. Or Capt. Wylie Walleye. Or Gen. Anthony Wayne.
Communities in northwest Ohio offer all sorts of people, or places, or things to honor as the New Year is ushered in today and 2013 becomes a thing of the near past.
Chuck, a 6-foot chicken that drops at midnight into the village of Delta, is a relative newcomer to the sky-fall trend, having taken his maiden flight from the top of a fire-truck ladder last year to celebrate the village’s sesquicentennial, said committee chairman Mabel Hudson.
The subject, which plays off the village’s more than 50-year tradition of having an annual chicken festival complete with a chicken barbecue, was sort of a no-brainer for the committee.
“It was, ‘Why not chicken?’ Then, of course, we had to come up with a chicken; we couldn’t do a live one, we would have had PETA out here,” Mrs. Hudson said.
It used to be that a human being wore the chicken costume — purchased by the village years ago — in the annual parade held during the chicken festival. In 2012, village resident and former street superintendent Roger Moden took the costume to his workshop at home. He created a wooden frame out of two-by-fours and stuffed the costume to give Chuck some structure.
“Its wings are stretched straight out, and it looks like a dive bomber when it’s coming down,” he said of the New Year’s Eve drop.
During the offseason, Chuck resides in Mayor Dan Miller’s office, waiting for the call of duty on Dec. 31.
The village is not the first nor the last to bring in a New Year with an object of significance to a specific community.
The most famous, without argument, is the more than 11,000-pound crystal ball that falls in Times Square, every second chronicled across television screens for those who would rather celebrate from home.
But let’s not discount the dropping of several giant oranges (where else but in Florida?), a stuffed muskrat in a top hat and bowtie named Marshall P. Muskrat (that visual comes to you compliments of Princess Anne, Md.), and the descent of a 30-pound flea in Eastover, N.C. (A flea? Really?).
Back in northwest Ohio, the village of Elmore drops a giant sausage, but only every five years — the next one isn’t until 2015, sorry, sausage lovers. And this year in Ann Arbor, organizers put together an event called “The Puck Drops Here,” at which a 10-foot puck lit with 6,000 LED lights is lowered at midnight, according to the Ann Arbor Convention & Visitors Bureau.
In Port Clinton, the traditional New Year’s Eve dropping of an inanimate, yet significant, object is old hat. The show there is in its 17th year, and it culminates with the dropping of a 600-pound fiberglass fish, known as Capt. Wylie Walleye, from a crane on North Madison Street. Organizers expect between 5,000 and 10,000 people to attend, based on prior year estimates.
“Expect most of the hotels downtown to be full and bars and restaurants crowded,” said Don Clemons, chairman of the Walleye Madness at Midnight committee. “It’s big for business and therefore good for Port Clinton.”
The festivities include the usual food and refreshments and children’s games. New this year will be a bigger stage, with a boat next to it that will be used as a platform for the Port Clinton’s mascot, a costumed Wylie Walleye, Jr., for Spike, the Toledo Walleye mascot, and for other VIPs, Mr. Clemons said.
The event will be streamed live on www.walleyedrop.com, starting about 6 p.m., Mr. Clemons said.
It is likely the last time that this particular fish will be dropped; it is ready to be replaced after several years of repairs to its wooden frame that has been rotting, he said.
About 50 miles to the west, in Waterville, the New Year’s Eve celebration will mark the 50th anniversary of the Waterville Historical Society.
The family event at the downtown clock tower marks the Jan. 1, 1745, birthday of Gen. “Mad” Anthony Wayne, whose troops defeated Indian tribes in the 1794 Battle of Fallen Timbers, near what is now Maumee. The historical society, launched in 1964 by Waterville residents who wanted to collect and preserve local history, will schedule various events throughout the year to mark its anniversary.
At midnight, a life-size mannequin of the general will be lowered from a nearby bar roof, dressed in a rented costume, complete with a white-powdered wig and a tricorner hat.
“We count down to midnight, and then we just lower him down from the roof,” Mad Anthony’s Tavern owner Kim Crawford said. “They come from all around the Waterville area to watch. And they scream and cheer.”
Contact Roberta Gedert at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6081.