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New Years Eve 2011 Going into 2012
Exit the Year of the Flood
January 3, 2012

The Oriental tradition of lowering a Croaker is in response to other cities lowering acorns and apples to mark the New Year. The first year a Croaker was dropped, 2004, it was a modest affair. Simply an 18-inch piece of spray painted plywood adorned with tinsel and a few bulbs.

The crowd waits for the Croaker in the sky to drop
The Croaker on high

In the 7 New Years since, the Croaker has grown 3 feet longer. Still built of plywood, this year’s Croaker was illuminated by 33 AA batteries, 4 glow sticks, driveway reflectors and a handheld spotlight. All these options make for a heavy fish that, given the slightest side-to-side movement during its descent, begins oscillating. To solve the weight problem, the fish is raised by a bridle secured in two locations. Fore and after guys, attached below the fish’s head and tail, minimize twist.

While the Croaker’s technical details can be addressed before its deployment, finding a height to lower it from is less scripted. Some years, local sailboats have been pressed into service. Others, such as this one, the arrangements were more spontaneous.

This year, Steve Archambault, visiting the Town Dock aboard his 1976 Cheoy Lee ketch “Windeva” volunteered his mast for the midnight Croaker drop. Steve, who was visiting from Maine, had recently had both his mast completely stripped and revarnished. It was from his main mast, to mark the final seconds of 2011, that the Croaker was lowered.

Visiting sailor Barry Alten mans the Croaker’s aft guy, the line attached under its tail. Volunteers hold cards they’ll flash to represent the last seconds of 2011. And the countdown begins….
….almost there. Vessel owner Steve Archambault lowers the Croaker to the deck as Tim Balfour counts down the final seconds. Number holders Rita Vorleiter (9) and Greg Berndt (8) are already hugging and we have ….
…a New Year! Card holders Emma Conley, Emma Wheeler, Elizabeth Sligh and Kathy Long give the crowd the 2012 Oriental analog welcome.

Posted Tuesday January 3, 2012 by Bernie Harberts

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