No rodents are harmed in the annual New Year's Eve Muskrat Dive. Photo: Main Street Princess Anne

Ducks, Muskrats & Crabs: The Bay’s Quirky New Year’s Eve “Ball Drops”

From lighted boat parades to crab baskets stacked high to build a Christmas tree, the Chesapeake Bay does holiday traditions just a little differently than the rest of the country.

At no time is this more true than at midnight on New Year’s Eve. At the same moment New York City’s Times Square drops a 6-ton ball covered in 2,688 Waterford crystals, towns up and down the Bay will drop all manner of symbols that embody the rich Chesapeake culture.

Flying fish: The Rock Hall rockfish gets ready to drop.

In Havre De Grace,  known as the Decoy Capital of the World, it’s only fitting that the symbol raised high in the air is a duck. Rock Hall welcomes the New Year with a rockfish, Maryland’s state fish and a prized sportfish sought by anglers in both Maryland and Virginia.

In Easton, the popular blue crab drop even brought CNN to town in 2014. The oyster that Crisfield leaders will drop at midnight takes more than one man to hoist into position. For good reason, Princess Anne advertises a night of “free weird fun” when Marshall P. Muskrat, in top hat and cape, dives into the New Year on a zip line. (No live muskrats are harmed in this daring display).

On Virginia’s lower Eastern Shore, Cape Charles drops a lighted crab pot. And on Chincoteague, the Saltwater Cowboys celebrate the first hours of 2023 with a twinkly horseshoe, and a costume parade with prizes. “It’s our heritage,” they say. The same can be said for each of these Bay celebrations.

If you’re staying on the Chesapeake for the holidays and want to usher in 2023 with just a little Bay spirit, ring in 2023 at one of these hometown events. 

Havre De Grace Duck Drop and Fireworks

Concord Point Park

700 Concord Street

Havre de Grace MD

Havre de Grace Duck Drop

Rock Hall Rockfish Drop

Bulkhead off Bayside Avene

Rock Hall MD

Rock Hall Rock Fish Drop

Easton First Night Crab Drop

For more information on admission and First Night Activities

First Night Talbot

Crisfield Oyster Drop

9 pm to midnight at The Crisfield Library

100 Collins Street in Crisfield.

Crisfield Oyster Drop

Princess Anne 

Muskrat Dive

Main Street

Princess Anne Muskrat Dive


Pony Island Horseshoe Drop

Robert Reed Downtown Park

Pony Island Horseshoe Drop

Cape Charles VA

Crab Pot Drop

Mason Avenue

Cape Charles Crab Pot Drop

-Niambi Davis