Thursday, June 30 2022

PORT CLINTON — One of western Lake Erie’s most iconic New Year’s Eve celebrations, the Walleye Drop in downtown Port Clinton, is set to return and mark a milestone this year.

Although COVID-19 forced the event to be held virtually last year, which otherwise draws thousands of locals and visitors to downtown on New Year’s Eve, the ongoing pandemic won’t stop Wylie Walleye to ring in 2022 at midnight Friday on his 25th anniversary of popular downfall.

The 20-foot, 600-pound fiberglass mascot of Port Clinton, known as the ‘walleye capital of the world’, could make its descent before more eyes than ever this year as organizers plan to stage at both the traditional in-person event and incorporate an online virtual livestream of the festivities for those unable to attend.

After:Santa Claus makes a stopover in Port Clinton on Saturday

According to Kristina Willoughby of the Wylie Walleye Foundation, which organizes the event each year, more than 1,200 people went online as midnight approached to watch the fall from home last year.

This year’s live action will be viewable from Madison Street in the heart of downtown Port Clinton and will include street interviews from what is expected to be a large crowd on Friday night.

The livestream will also feature live musical performances, while those partying outdoors on Madison Street will enjoy a medley of tunes from Port Clinton’s own DJ Hondo.

The in-person festivities kick off from 4-6 p.m. with the annual Minnow Drop for kids 12 and under, featuring crafts and a big balloon drop, at the Knights of Columbus, 109 E. Perry St.

The in-person festivities kick off from 4-6 p.m. with the annual Minnow Drop for kids 12 and under, featuring crafts and a big balloon drop, at the Knights of Columbus, 109 E. Perry St.

“We’ll have the ‘golden’ game again,” Willoughby said. “Even the kids had fun playing this because it’s a family event.”

For adults, this year’s Walleye Drop activities include its third annual “Bar Swim,” which has attendees aboard luxury heated buses looping around making stops at many popular establishments, at from 7 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.

Willoughby said this year’s loop is the biggest ever, stretching as far east as Marblehead, where they will reach the historic Jamestown Tavern, and as far west as Lagoon Saloon in Bay Township.

“The bar bath is a way to integrate the surrounding areas,” she said. “It was great downtown, but we needed something bigger.”

The Bar Swim’s final destination will be downtown Port Clinton, just in time to prepare for the midnight descent.

In addition to the music, the downtown festivities will also include more games, raffles, prizes, outdoor vendors and, of course, many restaurants and other downtown businesses open to shopping.

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419-680-4897

Twitter: @JonDBN

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