Eastport’s NYE Celebration Ranked Quirkiest in the Nation 

When the clock strikes midnight, those celebrating New Year’s Eve in Eastport will be watching a different kind of drop.An eight-foot long scaled model of a sardine will be dropped out of the Tide Institute and Museum of Art’s third floor window.”We said, ‘Let’s see if we can come up with something distinctive. There’s no sense in doing something that everyone else is doing,'” said Hugh French, Director of The Tide Institute and Museum of Art in Eastport’s Bank Square.The sardine drop is the grande finale in this seven year tradition. At 11:00 PM, when it’s midnight in nearby Canada, a giant maple leaf is dropped in Eastport.”Everyone sings ‘O, Canada’ in the street. They hand out the lyrics and everybody sings,” said Bill Schaefer, who designed and built both the sardine and the leaf.The tradition of lowering the sardine has spawned into other traditions as well. Some folks believe kissing the fish will bring you good luck in the new year.”That started about 2 years ago, not of our doing, but people just started to kiss the fish and that obviously adds to the fun,” said French.The fun brings people from all over to Eastport on New Year’s Eve.”We’ve had people coming from miles and miles, from Ohio, Kentucky, come here just to see the fish drop,” said Schaefer.This year the sardine and maple leaf drops were ranked by travel website TripAdvisor as the quirkiest New Year’s Eve celebration in the entire country. It’s a title event organizers welcome.”It’s a way of getting a little more exposure for this area, a little more exposure for Maine. It attracts more people,” said French.The sardine and maple leaf were built to last, so that this tradition can last as well.