Times Square on New Year’s Eve is a world famous event. Every year on December 31st the world prepares to celebrate the New Year via many elaborate parties which include dancing, music and fireworks displays. New York City is the center of one of the most popular New Year’s celebrations in the world that is held in Times Square and symbolized by the dropping of an ornately lit glass ball that is perched, via a pole, atop the 25-story Ones Times Square building. The ball is timed to reach the bottom of the pole at precisely 12 midnight, New Year’s Day.
The first Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration was held in 1903 when a New York Times newspaper office decided to celebrate the company’s opening in Times Square (that was actually named after the newspaper) with a midnight fireworks display on December 31, 1903. Approximately 200,000 people attended the event and it was considered such a fantastic way to ring in the New Year that by 1904 going to Times Square to celebrate was a new tradition. The owner of the New York Times newspaper at the time, Adolph Ochs, wanted an even more elaborate spectacle to draw crowds to Times Square and so, in 1907, the firework show was replaced by an electrically lit ball which was lowered down a flagpole to symbolize the very second midnight hit and 1908 was officially declared. Over 100 years later, the ball drop tradition remains fundamentally unchanged.
The Times Square Ball has been dropped every single New Year’s Eve since, except for 1942 and 1943 in accordance of wartime blackouts. Every year the crowds grow (current estimates suggest there are about 1 million people in attendance) and television and Internet media has made it easy for people all over the world to watch the ball drop and New Yorkers celebrate the New Year. Thus, the fame and allure of New Year’s Eve in Times Square has grown substantially in the past decades.
The ball itself has been changed and updated several times. New designs have been crafted to fit with innovative technologies that allow the ball to be more colorful and bright every year. The original New Year’s Eve Ball contained 100 light bulbs and descended down a 141 foot pole while the current version has a computerized multi-colored LED lighting system (with built-in flashing strobe lights) and an outer surface made of highly-reflective triangle-shaped crystal panels that descends down a 475 foot pole. The ball is so beautiful and beloved by New Yorkers and tourists alike that as of 2009 it remains permanently atop the One Times Square building all year round and is only removed on rare occasions for maintenance purposes.
Although the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is a strictly American tradition, the ball itself is created overseas in Ireland. Ireland is famous for “Waterford Crystal,” a glassworks company that is located in the county of Waterford, Republic of Ireland. Waterford Crystal is proud to call the Times Square Ball one of its most famous products, having made the 2,668 crystals that adorn it.
There are some interesting facts about the current Times Square Ball:
• Its shape is known as an “icosahedral geodesic sphere.”
• It is 12 feet in diameter.
• It weighs 11,875 pounds.
• The ball has the capability to showcase more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns that give it a spectacular kaleidoscope effect.
• According to the Times Square Alliance, “for 2013 288 of the Waterford Crystal triangles introduce the new Let There Be Peace design of a dove with wings spread symbolizing a message of peace; 288 triangles feature the Let There Be Friendship engraving of people holding hands around the world; 288 triangles are emblazoned with the romantic Let There Be Love pattern of a cascade of hearts; 288 triangles showcase the Let There Be Courage ribbon medal design; 576 triangles sparkle with the Let There Be Joy design of an angel with arms uplifted welcoming the New Year; and the remaining 960 crystal triangles are the Let There Be Light design of a stylized radiating sunburst.”
The Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration is a marvelous event to watch. If you live in New York and do not mind crowds it is a fun place to be at midnight on at least one New Year’s Eve of your life. For many more people, watching the ball drop on television is a satisfying way to ring in the New Year. The world hosts many wonderful celebrations on December 31st and with the technical media that we have at our fingertips it is fun and interesting to do some research and see how different places commemorated the past year and ushered in the new one. Nevertheless, Times Square is a special place to be during New Years and if one cannot be there in person then they can still be a part of it via technology.
Happy New Year!