Photo by Andy Newman

My son, Alan, called me Dec. 30.

He was in Raleigh, N.C., on his way back to Boone, N.C., after spending a week with me and my wife.

“Dad, I’m going to spend New Year’s Eve watching an acorn drop here in Raleigh,” Alan said. “And you’re going to be in Key West watching a drag queen drop!”

He was absolutely correct.

It was my third consecutive New Year’s Eve in Key West working with our account executive Carol Shaughnessy to assist CNN’s live broadcast of the Big Red Shoe Drop at the 801 Bourbon Street Pub complex on Duval Street.

Eleven years ago, bar owner Jimmy Gilleran came up with a crazy idea for female impersonator Gary Marion who portrays “Sushi.”

“I had this vision to put ‘Sushi’ in a huge facsimile of a woman’s high heel and lower her to Duval Street as the clock strikes midnight,” Gilleran said. “Only in Key West could you do something like this.”

Each year the crowds get larger and the media attention grows. New Year’s Eve 2008 featured the fifth consecutive time that Sushi has appeared on the 90-minute CNN New Year’s Eve show anchored by Anderson Cooper. And the photos we shoot and release immediately after the drop are well received by various news wire services and other media venues.

“In Times Square, they drop the ball,” Sushi quipped. “In Key West, they drop the shoe, with Sushi in it.”