What Should Payson Drop On New Year's Eve?

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Probably the image most associated with New Year's Eve is the big ball dropping in Times Square to herald the stroke of midnight and the onset of a new year.

Whether partying or staying at home, chances are most of us will gather around a TV and watch the ball drop once again on Sunday night. It's hard to imagine a New Year's Eve without it.

In other places around the country, less famous ball-drops are held, sometimes using a "ball" in the shape of an object that symbolizes or represents the particular town or area holding the celebration. Two that come readily to mind are the huge peach that is lowered at midnight in Atlanta, and, closer to home, the giant pine cone that descends in Flagstaff to signal the start of a new year.

Here in the Rim country, we'll once again have to watch the ball drop on TV, but the day will surely come when this area will be large enough to drop something of our very own on New Year's Eve.

Rather than get caught without an appropriate symbol, we figure it's time to begin the public debate. To do just that, here is our ...

TOP 10 THINGS TO DROP IN THE RIM COUNTRY ON NEW YEAR'S EVE

10. Humongous Heart

We almost have to start here, since a lot of our tourism materials refer to the Rim country as "The Heart of Arizona." The obvious downside is that if our giant heart should slip as it's being lowered, we'd end up with one big broken heart and an even bigger public relations disaster. Who came up with that dumb slogan, anyway?

9. Giant Chicken Fried Steak

You are what you eat, they say. Well, according to an extremely unscientific study conducted in the area's many dining establishments by your correspondents, Payson is loaded with chicken fried steaks smothered in a semi-liquid substance which almost always resembles gravy. Sorta. If you stand back and squint your eyes really hard. Note: If this item is selected for the Big Drop, those who plan to witness the event in person should wear a raincoat, galoshes and a splash guard over their faces.

8. Killer Juniper Berry

Atlanta went for a monster peach for an obvious reason to push Georgia's leading crop. Our equivalent here in the Rim country, not counting horse poop (and we don't even want to go there), would have to be the lowly, humble juniper berry. Problem is, last time we looked the bottom had dropped out of the juniper berry market. Worthless might not be the image we want to convey either.

7. Mayor Ray Schum

We like Ray. Honest. We make this suggestion only because we're dying to hear his New Year's Eve address to "the folks in TV land" before he gets his stroke-of-12 shove off the top of Town Hall. And just remember: It won't be a popularity contest.

6. Enormous Water Droplet

You take the town water department's cute little rubber water droplet conservation character and blow that sucker up a gazillion-fold and you get the picture. In its favor as our New Year's symbol is the fact that Town Hall 2000 participants rated water their No. 1 concern. But what if some wag comes up with the notion that the water table is dropping before our very eyes. Another potential PR snafu.

5. The Guy Who Designed the Wal-Mart Parking Lot

We hate this guy. Honest. He almost certainly got his professional start by designing rat mazes. The only problem with this idea is that we'd need to build a really tall building to make sure he gets his just desserts.

4. Massive Smiley Face

Stadiums have sponsors. Bowl games have sponsors. Why not become the first community with a ball-drop sponsor? And if the Wal-Mart Supercenter towers above all others as the Rim country's greatest man-made landmark, then what better symbol than a giant, yellow, falling-price smiley face? What? You can't imagine the Rim country version of Dick Clark intoning, "4 ... 3 ... 2 ... 1 ... Happy New Year ... and it looks like prices have fallen once again at the Payson Supercenter!" What if we put a cowboy hat on the smiley face?

3. A Godzilla-sized Southwestern willow flycatcher

Rim country ranchers are all too familiar with this small, wren-like bird. Native to Mexico, it took up residence in the high deserts around Roosevelt Lake. There, its government-protected existence has helped to close down many cattle ranches where the land has been deemed by the U.S. Forest Service as a "potential (flycatcher) habitat" and, in at least one case, "a potential potential habitat."

2. Gargantuan Payson Concrete & Materials Cap

We are getting very close here, fellow Rimaroos. It's the ultimate status symbol/fashion statement in the Rim country. If you're anybody at all in these parts, you probably even have two one for everyday wear, and a clean one for dressier occasions. Best of all, it combines the corporate sponsorship concept with a local symbol that, we are told, is recognized even beyond the Rim country. What better way to tell the world, "Happy New Year," than with a gigantic version of that familiar green, yellow and white Rim country icon?

1. All Those Drivers and Pedestrians in the Wal-Mart Parking Lot Who Seem to Think They Exist in a Giant Protective Bubble

You run into them every day, almost literally. They think there are no road rules in parking lots. They all have blank looks on their faces, as if they're background extras in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers." Let's round 'em up, stuff 'em in a giant gunny sack and ... PLOP! From the same really tall building we construct for the guy who designed the parking lot.

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