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Drag Queen Drop Highlights Key West New Year's Eve

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KEY WEST (CBSMiami/FKNB) -- New Year's Eve revelers celebrated the arrival of 2016 in Key West with multiple subtropical takeoffs on the traditional "ball drop" in New York City's Times Square -- including the "drop" of a renowned female impersonator in a super-sized red high heel after one of 2015's last same-sex weddings.

Key West New Year's Eve
Revelers jam Duval Street in Key West, Fla., Jan. 1, 2016, to watch female impersonator Gary Marion, known as Sushi, descend in a large replica of a woman's high heel shoe to mark the beginning of the new year. The Big Red Shoe Drop is one of several of the subtropical island city's takeoffs on New York City's traditional Times Square ball drop. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Mike Freas/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

Thousands of people gathered on the island's Duval Street outside the Bourbon St. Pub complex to watch drag queen Sushi, the alter ego of Key Wester Gary Marion, "drop" in the red shoe for the 18th consecutive year.

About 90 minutes before the descent, the shoe served as the wedding altar when Sushi, dressed in a lavish handmade silver-and-white gown, exchanged "I do's" with her longtime partner Jeff Kucin. As a flower girl threw silver rose petals, New Year's Eve revelers witnessed and applauded one of the final same-sex weddings of 2015, the year they were legalized nationwide.

A few blocks away, crowds celebrated while watching a gigantic manmade conch shell, the symbol of the Florida Keys, descend to the roof of Sloppy Joe's Bar. In Key West's Historic Seaport, a pirate wench was lowered from the top of a tall ship's mast at the stroke of midnight outside the Schooner Wharf Bar. And a celebration at the Ocean Key Resort featured a huge replica of a Key lime wedge "splashing down" into a larger-than-life margarita glass.

New Year's Eve revelry elsewhere in the Florida Keys included waterfront fireworks displays and parties in Key Largo and Islamorada as 2016 arrived.

Key West New Year's Eve
Female impersonator and legal notary Kyle Stewart, left, presides over the marriage of Jeff Kucin, middle, and Gary Marion, right, better known as "Sushi," amid a giant reproduction of a woman's high heel shoe Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in Key West, Fla. The New Year's Eve wedding was among the last same-sex weddings in 2015, the same year that saw same-sex marriage legalized nationwide in the U.S. Marion is to descend in the shoe to mark the beginning of 2016. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Rob O'Neal/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

(©2016 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Florida Keys News Bureau contributed to this report.)

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