Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »

Key West, Florida

Key West High Heel Shoe Drop

Leave it to Key West to drop a real-live drag queen instead of a ball to mark the arrival of the New Year. 

Since 1996, local Key West celebrity drag queen Sushi has annually parked her key-ster in a giant, red, high-heeled shoe as it is lowered off the balcony of the Bourbon St. Pub at the stroke of midnight on December 31.

In the early years, Sushi (aka, Gary Marion) and friends fashioned her makeshift coach out of papier-mâché and chicken wire, which held up pretty nicely until the weather turned uncooperative. Seeking a more permanent solution to the festivities, a local auto mechanic was hired to make the shoe more lasting. A fresh coat of glitter is applied anew in preparation for the festivities, as international camera crews have caught wind of Key West’s hijinks. 

Throngs of tourists and locals ride mechanical bulls nearby while others dance, fling confetti, drink like there’s no tomorrow, and generally go bonkers during the street party. In true Conch Republic fashion, all are welcome: Rockwellian families with kids can be found alongside Parrot Heads and leather daddies, everyone equally united in the spirit of dropping Sushi.

And year after year, Key West’s most celebrated, larger-than-life (living) personality bravely puts her faith in her team to lower her to safety as a new year dawns, with the fawning masses reveling at her feet, feeling truly blessed to have shared such a glorious spectacle.

Know Before You Go

Bourbon St. Pub, 742 Duval Street, Key West FL

Contributed by
sandwichgirl
Edited by