Dozens of people gathered to watch the New Year's beach ball drop in downtown Bangor. Credit: Eesha Pendharkar/BDN

One of Bangor’s oddest and most beloved traditions will return this Friday, as the owners and staff of Paddy Murphy’s in downtown Bangor will once again toss a beach ball covered in string lights off the roof of their building on New Year’s Eve.

The downtown Bangor New Year’s Eve ball drop, set for 11:55 p.m. on Dec. 31, will be one of only a few public events for the holiday, as the city’s full-scale Downtown Countdown festival has once again been canceled due to the pandemic.

But for the hearty souls who wish to gather outside on a chilly night in West Market Square for a few moments to ring in 2022, there’ll be a giant beach ball decked out in lights, ready for tossing — the 18th such event since the inaugural ball drop in 2003, accounting for 2020’s canceled event.

“After a too-quiet New Year’s Eve in 2020, we are very excited to bring back a small piece of Bangor’s festivities for New Year’s Eve 2021,” said Rachel Dobbs, who co-owns Paddy Murphy’s with her husband, John.

There are a few other New Year’s Eve events throughout eastern Maine, however, including “Auld Lang Zing,” a night of improv comedy from Improv Acadia, presented at the Bangor Opera House at 7 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30, and at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 31. Jen Shepard, Penobscot Theatre’s executive director and co-founder of Improv Acadia, said the event will be appropriate for all ages, except for a late show at 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, which will be for mature audiences. All ticket holders must show proof of vaccination and must wear masks.

And in Eastport, the community’s Maple Leaf and Sardine Drop will return after a cancellation in 2020. Organizers will drop a giant maple leaf from the roof of the Tides Institute at 11 p.m., to signify midnight in Atlantic Time just across the border in New Brunswick. They will then drop a giant sardine model off the roof at midnight, in honor of the town’s historic sardine canning industry. The event will be both in-person and streamed online at

Correction: A previous version of this story had an incorrect time for the Friday late show for “Auld Lang Zing.”

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.