A Fish Story

Mike Day

Carp Fest
From: Thursday, December 30 2010*

Mike has been the TH editorial artist since 1987.

On Friday, Prairie du Chien, Wis., will mark its 10th year of the Droppin’ of the Carp, created as a spoof of the Times Square tradition of lowering the ball on New Year’s Eve.

Founders Tom and Cathie Nelson chose a fish — christened “Lucky” — to represent the Mississippi River town. The Chinese custom of eating carp on New Years gave some credence to their choice.

Valley Fish Market owner and Carp Fest committee member Mike Valley and his granddaughter Sophia caught this year’s honoree through the ice at Blackhawk Bay on Sunday. The fish will be frozen and put on display Friday, when folks can kiss the carp for good luck before it’s hoisted aloft by a crane. The grand finale begins at 9 p.m. at the entrance to St. Feriole Island on Blackhawk Avenue.

The event has grown tremendously in the past decade, and now attracts up to 2,000 people. This year, Carp Fest is five days long (with a follow-up breakfast on Saturday) and features arts & crafts/games, bonfire, bowling, concert, dodgeball, euchre tournament, fireworks/light show, football game, hot air balloon rides, king and queen coronation, run/walk, skate party, skiing/sledding, swimming, youth triathlon and —of course — ice fishing.

Rarely has a bottom dweller been cause for such celebration.

Prairie du Chien hooked on Carp event

For the 10th time, the city is celebrating its unique New Year's Eve festivities.*
December 30, 2010

"The Droppin' of the Carp" annually culminates the Carp Fest in Prairie du Chien, Wis., as the new year arrives.
"The Droppin' of the Carp" annually culminates the Carp Fest in Prairie du Chien, Wis., as the new year arrives.
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. -- The city of Prairie du Chien hasn't dropped the ball on a New Year's Eve tradition that began in late 2001 as a novel way to bring in the New Year.

After watching a peach drop in Savannah, Ga., and a ball drop in Biloxi, Miss., for New Year's Eve, Tom and Cathie Nelson thought their hometown needed something unique, too.

"Those events inspired us to go ahead with some kind of New Year's Eve celebration here," Tom said. "Let's do this thing that won't be too much. We'll go to the City Council and ask them to close down a block of the street for a couple of hours for some sort of celebration."
The celebration includes the lowering of a dead carp, nicknamed "Lucky," weighing between 25 and 30 pounds and caught locally. It's frozen, then partially thawed and prepared for the big day. "The Droppin' of the Carp" culminates the city's Carp Fest as the New Year enters. After the drop, revelers can go up and kiss Lucky, and have their picture taken.
Tom Nelson recalled hearing about a report by New York Public Radio that said for New Year's Eve activities, the No. 1 place to be is
fishy fun Event: "Droppin' of the Carp" New Year's Eve festivities, Prairie du Chien, Wis.. Date: Friday, Dec. 31. Time: 9 p.m. bonfire, entertainment, light show, countdown at 11:40 p.m. Place: St. Feriole Island and Blackhawk Avenue.
New York City's Times Square and the No. 2 place is a little town in southwest Wisconsin named Prairie du Chien. After years of being a one-day show, the city's Parks and Recreation Department has helped transform the event into a five-day festival that includes a number of events for youngsters.
"It's a very creative way to bring in the New Year," said Bob Moses, Prairie du Chien Area Chamber of Commerce executive director. "Because of the originality of it, it's gotten a lot of notoriety. It gets us on the map."
In 2001, the Nelsons expected anywhere from a dozen to 50 people to attend the event. Instead, close to 500 people showed up.
"The chamber said we have to keep this going, and we really have," Tom said. "We've had a lot of fun. There was no way we thought we would go beyond a couple of years; that was not our intent. But circumstances dictated for it to go on."
This year's fish will be Lucky No. 10. Sometime in 2011, he will be refrozen and buried. A tree will be planted on top with a marker bearing his name and number.

Carp Fest: six unique days celebrating the new year*

Courier Press, December 20, 2010
by Jen Schultz

"Are you looking for good fortune for the coming new year? Tradition, has it that if you kiss Lucky, the carp, on New Year's eve, it will bring you good luck," explains Tom Nelson, Dropping of the Carp committee member.
For the second year in a row, the city of Prairie du Chien Parks and Recreation Department is teaming up with the Dropping of the Carp committee to form Carp fest - six days of fun and unique events for friends and families of all ages.
This year, the new Years eve event will take place from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Lucky Park. To help battle the cold, a huge bonfire is it, hot drinks are available and new this year - a heated tent. Also new to the evening's entertainment will be a laser light and pyrotechnics show at midnight, sponsored by Scream Xtreme Production.
"We're still looking for­ candidates for Carp King and Queen," says Nelson. "Appli­cations must be postmarked by Dee. 24." The new Carp royalty will be crowned dur­ing the· Carp Drop festivities on Jan. 31st.
The Dropping of the Carp has been recognized nation­ally, namely on David Letter­men's Top 10 List.
Besides holding the 10th annual Dropping of the Carp on Dee. 31, activities will begin on . Dee. 27 and run through Jan. 1 and include "hot air balloon rides on St. Feriole Island, the eighth annual carp bowl football game (PdC Firefighters against Mar-Mac firefighters), youth ice fishing, a dodgeball tournament, torchlight ski and hike, euchre tournament and many youth activities-a triathlon, arts and' crafts and pool games at Hoffman Hall, just to name a few.
One of the newest events is 'Rockin' the New Year' with Another Days Sunset, an alternative rock band, playing at the Hoffman Hall gymnasium on Friday, Dee. 31 from 8 to 11 p.m .
"All of the events we have our winter related and somewhat silly. They are all activities that utilize the city parks and facilities," says Parks and Recreation Director Mike Ulrich.
'We try to do some events that are truly unique," adds Nelson. "We're looking forward to another good year."
For more information about Carp Fest, visit droppingofthecarp.blogspot.com,
"If you come down, we'll hook ya!" says Ulrich.
(Click here to see news articles from Courier Press.)

Droppin' of the Carp Rings in Midwest New Year

( http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,240323,00.html)
Sunday, December 31, 2006

PRAIRIE DU CHIEN, Wis. — Some state residents will be celebrating the new year in a very Midwestern way — by watching a 20-pound female carp being lowered from a 110-foot crane.

The first annual Droppin' of the Carp was held in 2002 after Tom Nelson and his wife, Cathie, spent the previous New Year's in Savannah, Ga. where they lowered a giant styrofoam peach.

"We decided we could have some sort of New Year's celebration here in the Midwest," Nelson said. "Being on the river, it had to be a fish."

They organize it every year on St. Feriole Island and expect to draw as many people this year as last year — 1,500.

The first year they used a 3-foot carp and named it Lucky after they learned the Chinese believe eating carp on New Year's brings good luck. Each subsequent fish has had the same name.

This year, Lucky is an almost 20-pound female carp caught in the Mississippi River in late November by Mike Valley, who has stored her in a freezer in his store, Valley Fish and Cheese.

Valley planned to position her fins in place so she looks mounted, and then shellac and give her a few touchups, including a crown.

"Everybody always kisses it for good luck, so I prop the lips open too," Valley said.

It takes about two-and-a-half minutes to lower the carp, Nelson said.

Those gathered will then sing "Auld Lang Syne," recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing "God Bless America."

Lucky will then return to the freezer until May, when she will be buried and a maple tree planted over her.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,240323,00.html#ixzz188qfwRLN

Wisconsin Trails*

By April Spray Newton

The leaves have dropped, the air has cooled and the first snowflake has fallen – that means it’s time to get into the holiday spirit. Here are 20 ways to get out, give well and make this a very merry time of year.
9. New York might have a giant, glittering ball, but Prairie du Chien drops a large, lipstick-wearing carp on the 31st. Thousands will line up to kiss the fish – always named Lucky – for good luck at the 10th annual New Year’s Eve Droppin’ of the Carp festival.
A fun-filled event intent on bringing friends, family, and community together for the New Year! Proceeds going to Dropping the Carp Fund and City Park and Recreation Youth Enrichment/Hoffman Hall Activities.
Additional Information: Contact Prairie du Chien Tourist Info 1-800-732-1673 (www.prairieduchien.org)