The small Lake Erie harbor town of Port Clinton, Ohio which is known as the Walleye capital of the world has a unique way to celebrate New Year’s Eve. Each year millions of people tune in to watch the ball drop in Times Square but the residents of Port Clinton have a walleyed pike drop. Yes, they drop a giant fish to celebrate New Years. Sounds like fun, right?
So how did it all get started? “The “Walleye Drop” idea came to life when “Drop Man” Dan Sedlak, with the support of the “Big Fish” Mayor Tom Brown, presented his idea to the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau and the Port Clinton Chamber of Commerce. With the assistance of John Fellhauer, John’s dad-Bob, Dan’s brother Kevin and Ron Miller of OurGuest Inn, the Drop became a reality that cold December of 1996, and 17 years later the event is a huge success!”
Port Clinton has embraced Wylie as their mascot. During the year he can be spotted at fairs, parades, schools and senior centers. On New Year’s Eve, “Wylie Walleye,” is available for photos and autographs. The original Wylie Walleye decided to retire to the Florida Keys – not exactly prime Walleye fishing terrain. In 2012 Wylie the Walleye Jr. was born.
At this year’s New Year’s Eve “Madness at Midnight Walleye Drop” everything went off without a hitch, however there was one part to the Walleye Drop that gained a little regional attention. “Wylie,” the actual 600 lb. fiberglass fish that is dropped, is starting to show some serious signs of age. Of course this isn’t the first time he’s been a little worse for wear – there’s some intriguing history behind it.
The original paper mache Wylie weighed in at 120-pounds and measured 17 feet long. He was created by Andre Cuthel, a contemporary artist from Berea, OH. Wylie was replaced by his fiberglass successor after a rough (windy) New Year’s celebration in 1997 that caused him to crack. The Wylie that is lowered today has grown a bit since those early days and now comes in the form of a 20 foot, 600 lb. fiberglass fish that was created by Jim Wendt of Jim’s Taxidermy.
At this point they are not planning to replace Wylie, they are just planning to give him a little nip and tuck and some TLC.
When you’re planning your special way to ring in the 2015 New Year’s celebration don’t forget Port Clinton, Ohio and their “Madness at Midnight Walleye Drop.” You’ll enjoy all the activities surrounding the holiday for children, families and adults including great food, fun, and festivities in Port Clinton’s family friendly and accessible environment.
Check out the video below and some photos from the event!