PORT CLINTON -- It's not the crystal ball with lights that you see in Times Square, but for some people, it's just as good. Thousands of partygoers filled the streets of Port Clinton to ring in the New Year with the fish of the hour, Wylie Walleye. The 600-pound, 20-foot fiberglass fish made his annual drop at the stroke of midnight.
For eleven years, they've reeled the New Year by dropping Wylie from a crane into a fish net. The event is designed to lure summertime tourists back to the Lake Erie town in the wintertime.
It works. Thousands are hooked, filling up hotels and restaurants, then jamming the street to watch Wylie take the plunge. "We've been on CNN. Been around the world. Germany, France. We got calls last year from Sicily. Not a place we haven't been in terms of media," says Port Clinton Mayor Tom Brown.
They even serve walleye tacos at the Windjammer Restaurant and Bar. The walleye is deep-fried, served on grilled pita and topped with lettuce, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and salsa. What do you expect in the Walleye capitol of the world? "Basically, we're going to celebrate our area in the shoulder season. Try to bring folks down and have a good time," says Bill Lowe, a member of the Walleye Drop committee.
And Wylie has become Port Clinton's good will ambassador. He travels to outdoor shows to get folks hooked on fishing. "When we're going down I-75, the truck drivers are talking about Wylie the Walleye. Cars will come up, back up, take a picture," says John Fellhauer, Wylie's handler.
Updated by AEB