This year, the midnight drag queen arrives at 9 p.m.

Joe Schroeder, a bar proprietor in Key West, Fla., confronted a dilemma.

For 23 years, his New 12 months’s Eve custom within the southernmost metropolis of the continental United States has drawn hundreds of individuals from world wide who flock to see this vacationer city’s model of New York Metropolis’s ball drop: a drag queen named Sushi, who descends from an eight-foot purple stiletto on the stroke of midnight. However folks had been dying world wide, and to assist cease the scourge regionally, the town recognized for its alcohol-infused nightlife imposed a dreaded 10 p.m. curfew.

Resort bookings all through the town dropped by no less than 10 %. The get together appeared doomed.

Trying to the comic Purple Skelton for knowledge, Mr. Schroeder moved the midnight celebration up by three hours.

“Similar to it’s 5 o’clock someplace, we are saying: ‘It’s midnight someplace,’” Mr. Schroeder stated. “It’s New 12 months’s someplace on the planet at 9 p.m. I believe the Canary Islands.”

Really, it’s the South Georgia and Sandwich Islands, a British territory within the southern Atlantic Ocean.

A lot to the dismay of many would-be revelers, the shoe and its bedazzled occupant have been moved to the again of the Bourbon Road Pub, and the 9 p.m. shoe-drop will happen earlier than a personal ticket-paying viewers of about 200 folks.

Mr. Schroeder burdened that the top rely will enable for loads of social distancing, as a result of the out of doors venue suits greater than 1,000 folks.

“Some folks hate the concept, and a few folks love the concept,” stated Gary Marion, 53, the feminine impersonator who headlines the spectacle yearly. “I determine it doesn’t matter what, there’s going to be folks on the town. There’s going to be ingesting, whether or not it’s from 6 to 10 p.m., or at 2 a.m.”

Mr. Marion began working on the pub as a janitor within the 1990s. His job description grew to incorporate stitching curtains and performing in drag. The primary New 12 months’s Eve occasion that includes him as Sushi befell in 1997 and included unfriendly visits by the police and a metropolis commissioner in her bathrobe, who was dragged off the bed to find out what the fuss was about.

Mr. Marion now runs a nightly drag queen cabaret throughout the road. He spent the pandemic sewing masks to assist help the drag queens through the lockdown, when the bar was closed. It closed once more for 2 weeks final month, when no less than 5 of the 14 drag queens contracted the coronavirus, he stated.

For New 12 months’s, Sushi will put on a 1920s Chinese language ceremonial hand-embroidered robe, which Mr. Marion minimize up and repurposed.

“The shoe should go on,” Mr. Schroeder stated.

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