ELMORE - First it was Port Clinton's Capt. Wylie Walleye. Then there were the Pemberville Tomato and Tiffin's giant potato chip for New Year's 2000.
And this year, to mark the start of its 150th anniversary year, the village of Elmore will drop a super-sized, fiber-glass sausage at the stroke of midnight Jan. 1.
Using a curved plastic drain pipe as a mold, local residents have cooked up a sausage 10 feet long and 11/2 feet across. Exactly how it will be lowered during the New Year's party at the Elmore Community Center remains to be determined, but it's light enough that a crane won't be needed, Mayor Lowell Krumnow said.
“I think it's a creative idea,” the mayor said. The celebration will be “a nice way to bring family together to celebrate the beginning of the new year and beginning of the sesquicentennial.”.
About 1,800 tiny white lights will make the super sausage shimmer, while a metal framework inside will help it keep its shape.
Betty Marlow Miller, a member of Elmore's Sesquicentennial Committee, said she proposed the Sausage Drop to put a local touch on the first night of the village's yearlong 150th birthday party.
She acknowledged the tomato Pemberville dropped last year as her inspiration.
“When they made the tomato, I wondered why we couldn't have a drop too,” Mrs. Miller said.
She enlisted a friend, Annette Eshelman, to get the sausage project going, and Ms. Eshelman found help from Kendyl and Dawn Peters, whose barn became the project's workshop. They all met with the Pemberville tomato team to see how it was done.
Kendyl Peters said he, his wife, and Ms. Eshelman have worked about four hours a night to get the sausage in shape. Originally they planned simply to make fiber-glass ends for the piece of pipe, but eventually they decided to use fiber glass for the whole thing so it would look better, and the pipe ended up being cut out once the wonder wiener had cured.
“It looked like it would be easy at first,” Dawn Peters said. “But once you get into it, you realize all of what needs to be done.”
Mr. Peters said his wife cajoled him into the project because of his general skill as a handyman and his experience working with fiber glass. The sausage has consumed several hundred dollars' worth of material, including the drain pipe, which was donated by local farmer Kenny Neeb.
After it was molded, the sausage was cut in half so the lights can be installed. It will be sealed back together once that is done, Ms. Eshelman said.
The sausage is quite realistic looking, Mr. Peters said, right down to wrinkles in the fiberglass coating that look like casing ripples.
Ms. Eshelman said that while Mr. Peters has been in charge of engineering, she'll oversee painting the sausage, which will be brown with flecks of other colors to represent pepper and other spices.
Mayor Krumnow said the sausage will be lowered either from a bucket truck or scaffolding provided by the village.
Mrs. Miller said the sausage honors one of the village's longest-running businesses, Tank's Meats, which has been in operation since 1907.
“I'd heard of Tank's long before I moved here. We'd make a trip over here to buy [their sausage],” said Mrs. Miller, a former Grand Rapids, O. resident who has lived in Elmore since the final week of 1995.
Mayor Krumnow said the village once had a second meatpacking plant, Brandes & Trautman, that made a locally branded bologna and other cold cuts. B&T closed sometime during the 1980s, the mayor said.
Mrs. Miller, who helped Grand Rapids get its Apple Butter Festival started, said she volunteered for the Sesquicentennial Committee as a way to meet more people in Elmore.
Pemberville has no plans to drop its tomato again this New Year's, but the Port Clinton walleye is scheduled to make his sixth annual appearance.
Al Amstutz, the sausage factory's owner, said his company was pleased with the sesquicentennial committee's idea and the publicity it might bring.
“We'll do whatever they want us to do to help,” he offered.
Tank's Meats employs 18 people and distributes its products in about a 50-mile radius around Elmore, Mr. Amstutz said.