Updated: Dec 19, 2022
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 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 Saturday, Dec. 31.
At the Bourbon St. Pub complex, 724 Duval St., renowned drag queen Sushi is to star in the “Red Shoe Drop” festivities for the 25th 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. Past “Red Shoe Drops” have been featured on CNN.
As well as Sushi’s lively banter prior to the “drop,” spectators can enjoy scheduled performances by notable female impersonators and other local and national talents on a street-side stage.
Street viewing of the entertainment and “drop” is free and open to the public. A limited number of tickets for a VIP balcony party overlooking the stage is offered each year; call New Orleans House Guest House at 305-293-9800 for VIP ticket availability.
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. Festivities are to be hosted from the rooftop by DJ Sanaris and, as a huge clock counts down the seconds to midnight, the supersized shell begins to descend. Live music and dancing inside Sloppy Joe’s round out the revelry. No reservations or tickets are taken for the popular outdoor event. Visit sloppyjoes.com.
In the Key West Historic Seaport, New Year’s Eve merriment is centered around the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St., and celebrates the island’s colorful seafaring heritage. Just before midnight, a “pirate wench” is to be lowered from the top of a majestic tall ship’s mast — completing her descent as the clock strikes and cannons boom to welcome 2023. The event includes live music, dancing and festivities at the Schooner Wharf. Visit schoonerwharf.com/.
Revelers also can applaud a huge replica of a Key lime wedge splashing down into a larger-than-life margarita glass on the Sunset Pier at Ocean Key Resort & Spa, 0 Duval St., paired with a performance by The Beatle Band; the “landing” of a flight attendant in a section of a replica aircraft during a ticketed Gatsby-style party at First Flight Island Restaurant & Brewery, 301 Whitehead St., whose historic building is known as the birthplace of Pan Am; and the offbeat “tuna drop” at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon, 4 Charles St. Visit facebook.com/SunsetPierKeyWest/, firstflightkw.com and smokintunasaloon.com.
While the festivities outlined here are New Year’s Eve highlights in Key West, a roster of holiday activities and other special events throughout the Florida Keys can be viewed at fla-keys.com/calendar/.
Photo by Rob O'Neal Photography