02 January 2018
KEY WEST, Fla. –– New Year's Eve revelers in subtropical Key West enjoyed six offbeat warmer-weather takeoffs on New York City's traditional Times Square "ball drop" — including the 20th annual "drop" of a female impersonator called Sushi in a super-sized red high heel.

Thousands of people flocked to Key West's famed Duval Street outside the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex to watch Gary Marion, portraying Sushi, "drop" while perched in the giant ruby slipper. 

Dressed in a lavish hot-pink sequined gown and headdress, Sushi presided over festivities and live entertainment prior to being lowered from the complex’s balcony seconds before midnight

As crowds below erupted in cheers, she landed and popped the cork on a ceremonial bottle of champagne. Confetti and lighting effects added to the spectacle.

Revelers also celebrated in Key West by watching a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, descend to the roof of Sloppy Joe's Bar. In the island city's Historic Seaport, a pirate wench was lowered from the top of a tall ship's mast outside the Schooner Wharf Bar. And at the Ocean Key Resort, a huge replica of a Key lime wedge "splashed down" into a larger-than-life margarita glass. Finally, there was the drop of a “unicorn” at The Porch bar and a "tuna" at the Smokin' Tuna Saloon.

While much of the nation celebrated the dawn of 2018 in frigid conditions, the midnight air temperature at Key West International Airport was 69 degrees Fahrenheit, according to forecasters at the National Weather Service.
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