The Strangest Tradition in Every U.S. State
Ostrich parades, turtle races, and meat raffles? We’re all a bunch of weirdos.
Alabama: MoonPie Drop
What better way to ring in the new year than with a snack? Mobile has a tradition of watching a giant moon pie, instead of the traditional ball, drop called the—what else?—MoonPie Over Mobile. As the 12-foot, 600 pound, and, alas, fake MoonPie descends during the midnight countdown, the crowd receives actual MoonPies to eat at the same time. There are a lot of other New Year’s traditions involving food and good luck, too.
Alaska: Blanket Toss
This tradition pays tribute to the Iñupiaq people of Alaska. The blanket, made of walrus hides, is used by dozens of people at once to toss one person up in the air. Now it’s simply a fun activity with the tossee tossing gifts into the crowd, but it was originally used to get a better view of the hunting terrain.
Arizona: Ostrich Festival
Every year, Chandler, Arizona hosts an ostrich-themed carnival. This huge fair has been part of town tradition for more than 30 years and originates from the area’s history of ostrich farming. There are live ostrich races and ostrich parades at this festival each year.
Arkansas: Razorback worship
The Razorback hog may just be the mascot for the University of Arkansas, but it’s not only students who heed the hog call. Go virtually anywhere in Arkansas and yell “Wooo pig!” and someone will call back with “Sooie! Razorbacks!” It is one of the most recognizable chants and traditions in all of sports.
California: Doo Dah Parade
Pasadena may be better known across the country for its Rose Bowl Parade, but locals know the annual Doo Dah Parade, held in November, is the more fun of the two. It was created as a mocking counterpart to the famed parade for one purpose and one purpose only: to be as ridiculous as possible. The only goal is complete and utter nonsense. Other states have cool state fairs and festivals too, but this is one of a kind.
Colorado: Headless Chicken Festival
The phrase “running around like a chicken with its head cut off” is taken very literally in Fruita, Colorado. Every year for the last 21, this town has celebrated one chicken’s will to live. It is based on a weird and gruesome story dating back to 1945 about how a chicken named Mike got the ax, but simply refused to die, and was then subsequently fed and taken care of by his executioner. Today, Mike the Headless Chicken is celebrated with his own festival, the first weekend in June.
Connecticut: Sea Music Festival
There really is a festival for everything—a prime example of this is Connecticut’s Sea Music Festival. The 40-year old music festival, held at the Mystic Seaport Museum each June, celebrates sounds and composition that are particular to seafaring culture. Here, one can hear old sea chanties and new seaside songs performed.
Delaware: Hummers Parade
Political satire takes a physical form every New Year’s Day in Middletown during Hummers Parade. This entire parade is dedicated to making fun of that year’s political headlines and prominent politicians and started in 1971 as a spoof of Philly’s Mummers Parade.
Florida: Strawberry Festival
Other than The Beatles’ song “Strawberry Fields Forever,” the annual Florida Strawberry Festival is likely the biggest ode to the fruit ever seen. The yearly celebration of the strawberry harvest in late February-early March in Eastern Hillsborough County spans nearly two weeks and more than 10,000 acres of farmland, attracting approximately 500,000 visitors. The festival has all the usual carnival attractions families love, which we can totally get behind, but the strange part is all the eating contests including strawberry spaghetti and strawberry-garlic mashed potatoes. We’ll pass, thank you!
Georgia: Peanuts and Coke
There are a lot of strange food combinations out there that actually taste amazing when you dare to try them, i.e. pineapple and pizza, chocolate and cheese, pickles and peanut butter. The combination of peanuts and Coke is pretty standard, especially as far as baseball parks are concerned. But it’s pouring the peanuts inside the Coke that makes for a weird Georgia tradition. According to the National Peanut Board, it’s about as southern a tradition as biscuits and gravy.