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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Everything You need to Know About the Times Square Ball

You Need to Know
About the Times Square
Every Dec. 31, about a million people fill Times Square to watch the famous, glittering ball drop during the last 30 seconds of the year.

New Yorkers gathered at Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan, where the chiming of bells rang out the old and rang in the new.
The Times Square ball, however, instantly replaced the bells and has been dropped every year for the last 102.
Except 1942 and 1943, when the tradition was suspended because of security blackouts during World War II.

Despite the frequently frigid winter weather, they stand outside for hours from 34th up to 59th streets, between Seventh and Eighth avenues, to experience the dawn of a new year at the "Crossroads of the World."
But Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, says the event is about much more than partying.
"It's about reflection, which is about looking back over the year that just passed, losing great people like Mandela, but also new people coming into our lives," said Tompkins.

"And then it's also about renewal and hope and looking forward with the sense of starting anew, and for some people that's a New Year's resolution and for other people it's about just a sense of hope for the future even though the past may have been tough."
And at the center of all
is the famed giant, glowing ball.
So where does this ball come from? 

Who makes it, what is it made of, and how did the tradition start?

Have a look at our history of the ball drop -- and don't forget to make a wish for the New Year, no matter where you're celebrating:

1903: New York Times owner Adolph Ochs orchestrates a midnight fireworks show to commemorate the paper's new headquarters at One Times Square.
That narrow building rising all by itself, then the second tallest in New York City, is the just-finished headquarters of The New York Times newspaper. Its publisher, Adolph Ochs, had successfully lobbied city leaders to change Longacre Square's name to Times Square earlier that year. 
He then resolved to throw a New Year's Eve celebration that would be the talk of the town. "An all-day street festival culminated in a fireworks display set off from the base of the tower," according to an official history published by the Times Square District Management Association, "and at midnight the joyful sound of cheering, rattles and noisemakers from the over 200,000 attendees could be heard, it was said, from as far away as Croton-on-Hudson, thirty miles north."
1907:  Ochs is warned by the city that his annual fireworks display has to stop. Ochs was undaunted. He arranged to have a bigger spectacle!! He goes for a large, illuminated 700-pound, five-foot-in-diameter iron and wood ball adorned with 25-watt light bulbs lowered from the flagpole on the roof of the building on Dec. 31. precisely at midnight to signal the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908." Thus the origin of today's celebration!
1920: The original ball is replaced with a 5-foot, 400-pound hollow wrought-iron ball.
1942-43: The ball drop is canceled due to wartime light "dimouts."
The tradition was suspended because of security blackouts during World War II. For those two years, midnight was marked with a minute of silence followed by a recording of bells played from sound trucks parked beneath the tower, in an echo of the Trinity Place events of the past.
1955: The iron ball is replaced with a 150-pound aluminum ball.

1981-88: Red and green light bulbs in the shape of an APPLE and stem are added to the ball for the "I Love New York" marketing campaign.

Red lights and a green stem were added in 1981 to make it an apple. A more traditional white ball replaced the apple in 1987 and underwent periodic upgrades (rhinestones, strobe lights, computer controls) until it was retired in 1998.

1995-98: Ball is given aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobe lights and computer controls.
2000: Waterford Crystal designed the Millennium Ball, a 1,070-pound, six-foot-in-diameter ball featuring 504 Waterford Crystal triangles illuminated by 168 halogen exterior light bulbs debuts. Inside, there are 432 clear, red, blue, green and yellow bulbs, strobe lights and mirrors. 
The 24-hour millennial celebration attracts reportedly the largest crowd of any New Year's Eve in Times Square's history.
2007: To celebrate the event's 100th anniversary, Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting debut a new crystal LED ball. It has a diameter of six feet, weighs 1,212 pounds and uses LEDs and computerized light patterns to produce more than 16.7 million colors.
2010: A million people gather for the Times Square celebration despite New York City getting pummeled with 20 inches of snow in a record-breaking blizzard on Dec. 30th.
2009-2013: The current ball is 12 feet in diameter, weighing nearly six tons. It has 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that are lit up by 32,256 Philips Luxeon LEDs. To accommodate the huge ball, the flagpole is extended to 130 feet, and now rises about 475 feet above the street.

2014: Colorful start planned at Times Square
Times Square is planning to look a lot brighter this New Year's Eve; its annual ball drop will feature a 7-foot-tall 2014 color display for the first time in its history.
Although the 2014 sign will be installed at the top of One Times Square on Dec. 26, it will only light up at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, when the ball descends to mark the beginning of the year.
"It allows us to control the numbers and do all different types of special effects from color changing to making them blink and sparkle and do all kind of things," said Ed Crawford, CEO of Philips Lighting North America, in a telephone interview with CBS News.

This year, Waterford and Times Square New Year’s Eve invite revelers to share in the “Gift of Imagination,” the first gift in the new, 10-year “Greatest Gifts” series that will decorate the Waterford Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball for the next decade. Each annual edition of the series will depict a theme of global aspiration whose value is universally treasured. 
In the spirit of this year’s gift, Waterford has teamed up with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to have a patient help design one special imagination crystal that will be installed on this year’s Waterford Ball.

“By giving 12-year-old St. Jude patient Coraliz the opportunity to help design this year’s imagination crystal, Waterford not only is giving a precious child a chance to live out a dream, they are brightening the spirits of children around the world who are fighting cancer.”
Happy New Year! 
Ring in 2014 at one of these hot parties around New York City.

So if you choose to be part of the world's biggest New Year's Eve party this time around, here are some essential tips to ensure that your experience is memorable and pleasant.
(For more details, visit, main source for Times Square dos and don'ts.)
The Basics
The famous illuminated Waterford Crystal ball—which can display more than 16 million colors and billions of patterns—drops from a flagpole atop 1 Times Square. The Alliance recommends watching on Broadway between West 43rd and West 50th Streets and on Seventh Avenue up to West 59th Street. Be sure to arrive early, as police officers close down streets as they fill up. (Here's the official word on street-closure times.) Those who score the choicest spots typically arrive before 3pm; the ball rises to the top of the flagpole at 6pm, and by 10:30pm, it's nearly impossible to find a spot with a view of the ball. Spectators with disabilities should take special care to arrive far in advance, as the designated accessible viewing area—the location of which is to be determined; try here for updates—fills up quickly too.
Last year, entertainment for those awaiting the New Year and its accompanying pyrotechnics included live music, hourly countdowns and even midnight-smooch practice. Expect more of the same as you ring in 2014.
Take the Train
Public transit is by far the best way to reach the celebration, but try to detrain at a stop other than Times Square/42nd Street and walk the rest of the way. That subway station in particular becomes uncomfortably crowded on New Year's Eve.
Wear Comfortable Shoes
We know you want to look nice on New Year's Eve, but no one is going to see your feet in this crowd. If you arrive early enough to get a good viewing spot, you'll be standing for many hours, and a pair of Reeboks will serve your tired feet much better than a pair of Manolos. Whatever comfy shoes you wear, just make sure they're closed-toe (and accompanied by a thick pair of socks), or it won't be long before your feet go numb.
Leave Your Bag at Home
The cops won't let you past the barricades with a bag, period. Plus, you'll be glad not to have any accessories weighing you down.
Bundle Up
It's likely to be very, very cold, and the temperature will continue dropping as the hours pass. Wear more layers than you think you'll need. The Times Square Alliance website actually references Gore-Tex by name, which tells you everything you need to know about the conditions.
Fuel Up
You can't reclaim your viewing spot if you leave the area, so grab a bite beforehand on nearby Restaurant Row or elsewhere—but make sure you're sufficiently nourished and hydrated for the long haul once you join the throng.
Visit the Restroom in Advance
There are no portable public bathrooms in the viewing area, so be sure to go before you arrive.
Have Cool Friends
It won't hurt to like the people you're with and have plenty of conversation topics ready—it's going to be a fun night, but a long one, too.
Of course, if Times Square isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of other ways to ring in 2014—especially in New York City. For example, you could catch a concert, take a cruise or see a comedy show. However you choose to celebrate, have a great time. Happy New Year!

Where will you be this New Year's Eve
at Midnight?

Trinity Church, where New Yorkers gathered before the Times Square tradition began;
 Koch with the ball in 1981;  replacing bulbs 1998;  ball in 1965