New Year's Eve in South Florida

From beachside fireworks to wacky takeoffs on the traditional ball drop in New York's Times Square, the Florida Keys offer visitors a wealth of ways to welcome 2018. 

And because winter in the subtropical island chain means balmy breezes rather than blizzards, revelers can leave heavy coats and boots behind as they head out to celebrate wearing light dresses or shorts and sandals.

Four celebrations in Key West, all slated for the night of Sunday, Dec. 31, are to be staged as lighthearted Keys versions of the Times Square festivities - including one featuring the "drop" of a female impersonator in a spangled super-sized red high heel shoe.

Renowned "drag queen" Sushi takes center stage at the annual celebration at the Bourbon St. Pub/New Orleans House complex on Duval St. 

Just before midnight, a dazzlingly gowned and coiffed Sushi, riding in the famed red shoe, is to be lowered from the balcony of the complex to the accompaniment of cheers and applause from the crowds below.

Also in Key West, revelers can welcome 2018 with a "conch shell drop" at Sloppy Joe's Bar; the lowering of a pirate wench from atop a tall ship's mast at the Schooner Wharf Bar; and the splash-down of a huge replica Key lime wedge into a larger-than-life margarita glass at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa.

At the head of the Keys island chain in Key Largo, a fireworks display over Blackwater Sound is to ring in the new year at midnight Sunday, Dec. 31. 

Midnight fireworks also are on the menu at an Upper Keys hotspot in Islamorada.

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