Dillsburg, Pa., drops a pickle to mark New Year’s Eve. Lebanon, Pa., drops a salami. Frederick is going to drop a giant key.
“We’ve been up to Dillsburg where they drop a pickle, and Lebanon where they drop a salami,” said Jeff Fishman, who came up with the idea with some friends. “Just last year, we were in Easton [where] they drop a crab, so we came up with the idea of dropping the key.”
Fishman said the Civitan Club of Frederick is the primary sponsor for the project, which will drop the 5-foot key at the suspension bridge over Carroll Creek behind the C. Burr Artz Library on New Year’s Eve.
The key has been adopted as a symbol of Frederick because the city was formerly home to Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
In addition to naming the city’s minor league baseball club — The Frederick Keys — and other local businesses and buildings after Key, officials have also held other key-related events. In 2007, various local artists decorated fiberglass keys that were installed in locations across the city.
To build the key for New Year’s Eve, the Civitan Club enlisted the help of students in the Maryland School for the Deaf's construction technology course.
The class is taught by Cameron Overs, who said it is a graduation requirement that helps teach students ways to use various tools and technology. The students learn skills like woodworking and how to create three-dimensional architecture drawings on a computer, he said.
Established in 1868, the Maryland School for the Deaf serves about 500 deaf and hard-of-hearing students from across the state in kindergarten through 12th grades at its Frederick and Columbia campuses.
Overs said he likes to bring in projects from the community because it helps fill time in class for students who have completed other tasks. He is always looking for more projects if the partner supplies the materials, Overs said.
Senior Austin Cereasoli, 17, took the lead on the project, said Overs, praising the student’s attention to detail.
“I have OCD [Obsessive, Compulsive Disorder], which is a good thing for this job,” a laughing Cereasoli said as Overs translated using sign language. “I’ve never made a key before — tracing it and cutting it out, it was curved so that’s a challenge. It was special, something I can be proud of.”
Sophomore Jake Bonheyo, 16, who enjoys working with this hands, said through Overs that he had never worked with wood before but helped sand the key.
“I love to see my work when it's done,” he signed. “It's nice to see it successfully completed.”
He was looking forward to finding out the reaction to the key when it drops on New Year's Eve.
“The grade so far has been on my teacher’s opinion,” he said. “Now it will be based on the people who see it.”
Fishman said he hoped to have lights on the key as it is lowered during the countdown to midnight on New Year’s Eve.
The celebration will also include Keyote, the mascot of the Frederick Keys, and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” at midnight, he said.
Fishman said he hoped to expand the program in future years.
“Nobody has apparently ever done it,” he said. “What more appropriate symbol for Frederick? ... We’re planning on it to be a long-term thing and be able to do it every New Year’s Eve. Hopefully, in future years we’ll do it bigger and better and get sponsors — maybe have fireworks.”