FLORIDA KEYS -- New Year's Eve revelers can expect to combine "bubbly" with "balmy" in the Florida Keys, raising champagne toasts at celebrations along the island chain as subtropical breezes rustle the palm fronds.
While New York City is famed for its Times Square "ball drop," Key West is to stage four widely differing takeoffs on that New Year's Eve tradition as midnight approaches Tuesday, Dec. 31.
The arrival of 2014 is to be heralded on the island's Duval Street with the "drop" of a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, to the flat roof of Sloppy Joes Bar, 201 Duval.
Thousands of spectators gather on Duval for the annual gala, emceed by a rooftop host starting at 10 p.m. and featuring dancing in the street and a countdown to midnight recorded on a huge clock. At midnight, the shell descends and cheers erupt.
Stellar Mojo Band is to perform on Sloppy Joe's indoor stage, rounding out the revelry. No reservations or tickets are taken, but a door charge is required to party inside the bar. For more information, visit www.sloppyjoes.com or call 305-296-2388, ext. 121.
Key West revelers also can welcome the New Year with Sushi -- not the seafood sensation, but a sensational diva who has adopted the name. Female impersonator Sushi headlines the annual "shoe drop" celebration for the 16th consecutive year at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex, 724 Duval St.
Wearing a dazzling gown and perched in a super-sized red high-heel shoe, Sushi is to be lowered from the balcony of the complex as the new year arrives. Performances by talented female impersonators and other entertainers add to the merrymaking.
VIP balcony tickets are available, but space is limited. For more information, visit bourbonstpub.com/newyearseve.html or call 305-293-9800.
At the Ocean Key Resort & Spa, 0 Duval St. on Key West Harbor, plans call for a huge replica of a Key lime wedge to splash down into a larger-than-life margarita glass as crowds welcome the new year on the property's Sunset Pier.
VIP tickets are available that include entrance into a private dining area for an abundant buffet dinner and four-hour open bar. At 10:30 p.m., the public will be welcomed to enjoy a free performance by Key West's Big Bawdy Burlesque Show. For more information, call 305-295-7005.
Finally, for piratical partiers, a New Year's Eve salute to Key West's rowdy seafaring roots is scheduled at the island's Historic Seaport. At midnight, a winsome pirate wench is to descend from the top of the mast of the tall ship America 2.0 as cannon blasts welcome 2014. A dove release is to follow.
Scallywags in attendance also can expect live music, dancing and festivities until 4 a.m., without a cover charge, at the Schooner Wharf Bar, 202 William St. For more information, visit www.schoonerwharf.com or call 305-292-3302.
At the head of the Florida Keys in Key Largo, a New Year's Eve fireworks extravaganza is to illuminate the sky above Blackwater Sound. The sparkling display is hosted by bayside restaurants Sundowners, Señor Frijoles, Cactus Jack's, Gus' Grille at the Marriott Key Largo Bay Resort and the Caribbean Club, all located near mile markers (MM) 103-104.
Tables fill quickly, so partiers are advised to arrive early. For additional information, visit www.keylargofireworks.com.
Revelers in Islamorada can find appealing activities as well. Cheeca Lodge & Spa, MM 82 oceanside, is staging a New Year's Eve celebration and midnight fireworks display. Attractions include live music, dancing on the beach and a gourmet dinner. For more information, costs and reservations, call 305-517-4580.
Florida Keys events calendar: www.fla-keys.com/calendarofevents
Florida Keys visitor information: www.fla-keys.com or 1-800-FLA-KEYS
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