Times Square Ball
|Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop|
The Times Square Ball Drop for New Year's Eve 2012
|Genre||New Year's Eve event|
|Location(s)||Times Square, New York City|
The Times Square Ball is a time ball located in New York City's Times Square. Located on the roof of One Times Square, the ball is a prominent part of a New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square colloquially known as the ball drop, where the ball descends 141 feet (43 m) in 60 seconds down a specially designed flagpole, beginning at 11:59 p.m. ET, and resting at midnight to signal the start of the new year.
The event was first organized by Adolph Ochs, owner of The New York Times newspaper, as a successor to a series of New Year's Eve fireworks displays he held at the building to promote its status as the new headquarters of the Times, while the ball itself was designed by Artkraft Strauss. First held on December 31, 1907, to welcome 1908, the ball drop has been held annually since, except in 1942 and 1943 in observance of wartime blackouts. The ball's design has also been updated over the years to reflect improvements in lighting technology; the original design was made from wood and iron and lit with 100 incandescent light bulbs, while its current incarnation features a computerized LED lighting system and an outer surface consisting of triangle-shaped crystal panels. As of 2009, the ball is also displayed atop One Times Square year-round. The event is organized by the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, a company led by Jeff Strauss.
The Times Square ball drop is one of the best-known New Year's celebrations internationally. It is attended by at least 1 million spectators yearly and enjoys a national television audience across New Year's Eve specials on several of the United States' major broadcast television networks, along with coverage on several major cable networks. Around a billion people worldwide watch this event on television and over the Internet.
The prevalence of the Times Square ball drop has also inspired similar "drops" at local New Year's Eve events across the country, often substituting balls for other objects that represent local history or culture.
To facilitate the arrival of attendees, Times Square is closed to traffic beginning in the late afternoon on New Year's Eve. The square is divided into different viewing sections referred to as "pens"; as attendees arrive, they are directed into the pens sequentially as they fill. Particularly following the September 11 attacks, security at Times Square on New Year's Eve has been strictly enforced by the New York Police Department (NYPD); attendees are required to pass through security checkpoints before they are assigned a pen, and attendees are prohibited from bringing backpacks or alcohol to the event.
Festivities formally begin in the early evening with the raising of the ball at around 6:00 p.m. ET. Party favors are also distributed to attendees, which have historically included large balloons, hats, and other items branded with the event's corporate sponsors. The hours before the drop are preceded by hourly countdowns for the arrival of the new year in other countries, along with live music performances by popular musicians. Some of these performances are organized by, and aired on New Year's Eve television specials which are broadcast from Times Square. Since the 2005–06 edition of the event, the drop has also been directly preceded by the playing of John Lennon's song "Imagine"; while the original recording was previously used, it was replaced by a live performance by a pop musician for 2011. The drop proper begins at 11:59 p.m. ET, the final minute of the year, and is ceremonially "activated" by a dignitary or celebrity joined on-stage by the current Mayor of New York City. The conclusion of the drop is followed by fireworks shot from the roof of One Times Square, along with the playing of "Auld Lang Syne", "Theme from New York, New York" by Frank Sinatra, "America the Beautiful" by Ray Charles, "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong, and "Over the Rainbow" by IZ.
Since the 1996 New Year's Eve celebration, the current Mayor of New York City has been joined by a special guest, selected yearly to recognize their community involvement or significance, in ceremonially "activating" the ball drop by pressing a button (in a smaller shape similar to the ball itself) at exactly one minute to midnight. The button itself does not actually trigger the drop; that is done from a control room, synchronized using a government time signal. Special guests who have activated the ball drop have included:
- 1996–97: Oseola McCarty
- 1997–98: A group of five winners from a school essay contest honoring New York City's centennial
- 1998–99: Chinese gymnast Sang Lan (who was injured during the 1998 Goodwill Games and was being rehabilitated in New York City)
- 1999–2000: Dr. Mary Ann Hopkins from Doctors Without Borders
- 2000–01: Muhammad Ali
- 2001–02: Rudy Giuliani and Judith Nathan; activating the drop was also Giuliani's final act as mayor. Michael Bloomberg officially became the new Mayor of New York City upon the beginning of 2002, and took his oath of office shortly after midnight.
- 2002–03: Christopher and Dana Reeve
- 2003–04: Cyndi Lauper, along with Shoshana Johnson, the first female American prisoner of war belonging to an ethnic minority
- 2004–05: Secretary of State Colin Powell
- 2005–06: Jazz musician Wynton Marsalis
- 2006–07: A group of eight United States Armed Forces members
- 2007–08: Karolina Wierzchowska, a valedictorian of the NYPD's academy who also served in the Iraq War
- 2008–09: Bill and Hillary Clinton
- 2009–10: Twelve students from New York City high schools on the U.S. News & World Report's America's Best High Schools Top 100 "Gold Medal" List
- 2010–11: Former Staff sergeant Salvatore Giunta
- 2011–12: Pop musician Lady Gaga
- 2012–13: The Rockettes
- 2013–14: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Michael Bloomberg, whose mayoral term ended at midnight, did not attend, and celebrated privately with his family instead. Unlike Bloomberg's inauguration in 2002, which was held shortly after midnight, Bill de Blasio was inaugurated in a ceremony the following morning at Gracie Mansion.
- 2010–11: Taio Cruz
- 2011–12: Cee Lo Green; his performance, however, was criticized by fans for his change of a lyric relating to religion.
- 2012–13: Train
- 2013–14: Melissa Etheridge
As a public event, the festivities from Times Square are televised as a part of New Year's Eve specials on several major U.S. television networks, with many several based from Times Square itself. By far the most notable of these is Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve; created, produced, and originally hosted by Dick Clark until his death in 2012, and hosted by Ryan Seacrest since New Year's Eve 2005, the program first aired on NBC in 1972 before moving to ABC, where it has been broadcast ever since. In recent years, it has consistently been one of the most-watched New Year's specials, peaking at 22.6 million viewers for its 40th edition in 2012. Following the death of Dick Clark in April 2012, a crystal engraved with his name was added to the 2013 ball in tribute. Other broadcasts from Times Square on the major networks include NBC's New Year's Eve with Carson Daly (hosted by Carson Daly from The Voice and Last Call), Fox's New Year's Eve Live, and Univision's ¡Feliz!.
On cable, CNN carries coverage of the festivities, also known as New Year's Eve Live, which has most recently been hosted by Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin from Times Square. Fellow news channel Fox News Channel carries All-American New Year, most recently hosted by Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Bill Hemmer from Times Square.MTV also offers coverage originating from the network's Times Square studios at One Astor Plaza. For 2011, MTV also held its own ball drop at Seaside Heights, New Jersey, the setting of its popular reality series Jersey Shore, featuring cast member Snooki lowered inside a giant "hamster ball". Originally, MTV planned to hold the drop within its studio in Times Square, but the network was asked by city officials to conduct the drop elsewhere.
Beginning in the 1940s, NBC broadcast coverage of the festivities from Times Square anchored by Ben Grauer on both radio and television. Its coverage was later incorporated into special episodes of The Tonight Show, continuing through Johnny Carson's tenure on the program. NBC would eventually introduce a dedicated special, New Year's Eve with Carson Daly, beginning in 2003. From 1956 to 1976, CBS was well known for its television coverage of the festivities hosted by bandleader Guy Lombardo from the ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City, featuring his band's famous rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" at midnight. After Lombardo's death in 1977, CBS and the Royal Canadians, now led by Victor Lombardo, attempted to continue the special. However, Guy's absence and the growing popularity of ABC's New Year’s Rockin’ Eve prompted CBS to eventually drop the band entirely. The Royal Canadians were replaced by a new special, Happy New Year, America, which ran in various formats with different hosts (such as Paul Anka, Donny Osmond, Andy Williams, Paul Shaffer, and Montel Williams) until it was discontinued after 1996. CBS no longer airs any specials from Times Square, electing to air reruns of Late Show with David Letterman instead.
For 2000, in lieu of New Year's Rockin' Eve, ABC News broadcast a day-long telecast hosted by Peter Jennings known as ABC 2000 Today featuring millennium festivities from around the world; Jennings was joined by Dick Clark as a special correspondent for coverage from Times Square, representing the Eastern Time Zone.
The first New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square was held on December 31, 1903; The New York Times' owner, Adolph Ochs, decided to celebrate the opening of the newspaper's new headquarters, One Times Square, with a New Year's fireworks show on the roof of the building to welcome 1904. Close to 200,000 people attended the event, displacing traditional celebrations that had normally been held at Trinity Church. However, following several years of fireworks shows, Ochs wanted a bigger spectacle at the building to draw more attention to the area. The newspaper's chief electrician, Walter F. Painer, suggested using a time ball, after seeing one used on the nearby Western Union Building. Ochs hired sign designer Artkraft Strauss to construct an electrically lit ball for the celebration; it was built from iron and wood, lit with one hundred incandescent light bulbs, weighed 700 pounds (320 kg), and measured 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter. The ball was hoisted on the building's flagpole with rope by a team of six men. Once it hit the roof of the building, the ball was designed to complete an electric circuit to light a 5-foot tall sign indicating the new year, and trigger a fireworks show. The first ever "ball drop" was held on December 31, 1907, welcoming the year 1908. In 1913, only eight years after it moved to One Times Square, the Times moved its corporate headquarters to 229 West 43rd Street. The Times still maintained ownership of the tower, however, and Strauss continued to organize future editions of the drop.
The second and third balls (1920–98)
The original ball was retired in 1920 in favor of a new design; the second ball remained 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter, but was now constructed from iron, weighing 400 pounds (180 kg). The ball drop was placed on hiatus for New Year's Eve 1942 and 1943 due to wartime lighting restrictions during World War II. Instead, a moment of silence was observed at midnight in Times Square, accompanied by the sound of chimes played from sound trucks. The second ball was retired in favor of a third design in 1955; again, it maintained the same diameter of its predecessors, but was now constructed from aluminium, and weighed 150 pounds (68 kg). In 1981, the third ball was revamped in honor of the I Love New York campaign, with red lightbulbs and a green stem to give it the appearance of an apple. For 1988, organizers acknowledged the addition of a leap second earlier that day (leap seconds are appended at midnight UTC, which is five hours before midnight in New York) by extending the drop to 61 seconds, and by including a special one-second light show during the extra second. The original white lightbulbs returned to the ball 1989, but were replaced by red, white, and blue bulbs in 1991 to salute the troops of Operation Desert Shield.
The third ball was revamped again in 1995 for 1996, adding a computerized lighting system with 180 halogen bulbs and 144 strobe lights, and over 12,000 rhinestones. Lighting designer Barry Arnold stated that the changes were "something [that] had to be done to make this event more spectacular as we approach the millennium." The drop itself also became computerized through the use of an electric winch synced with the National Institute of Standards and Technology's time signal; the new system was not without issues, however, as a glitch caused the ball to pause for a short moment halfway through its descent. After its 44th use in 1999, the third ball was retired and placed on display at the Atlanta headquarters of Jamestown Group, owners of One Times Square.
Into the new millennium (1999–2007)
On December 28, 1998, during a press conference attended by New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, organizers announced that the third ball would be retired for the arrival of the new millennium, and replaced by a new design constructed by Waterford Crystal. The year 2000 celebrations would also introduce more prominent sponsorship to the drop; companies such as Discover Card, Korbel Champagne, and Panasonic were announced as official sponsors of the festivities in Times Square. The city also announced that Ron Silver would lead a committee known as "NYC 2000", to be in charge of organizing events across New York City for the year 2000 celebrations, particularly outside of Times Square. A full day of festivities was held at Times Square to celebrate the arrival of the year 2000, which included concerts and hourly cultural presentations with parades of puppets designed by Michael Curry, representing countries entering the new year at that hour. Organizers expected a total attendance exceeding 2 million spectators.
The fourth ball, measuring 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter and weighing 1,070 pounds (490 kg), incorporated a total of over 600 halogen bulbs, 504 triangle-shaped crystal panels provided by Waterford, 96 strobe lights, and spinning, pyramid-shaped mirrors. The ball was constructed at Waterford's factory in Ireland, and was then shipped to New York City, where the lighting system and motorized mirrors were installed. Many of the triangles were inscribed with "Hope"-themed designs changing yearly, such as "Hope for Fellowship", "Hope for Wisdom", "Hope for Unity", "Hope for Courage", "Hope for Healing", and "Hope for Abundance". For 2002, the ball's crystals were engraved with the names of nations and organizations who were affected by the September 11 attacks.
Present day (2008–present)
In honor of the ball drop's centennial anniversary, a brand new fifth design debuted for New Year's Eve 2008. Once again manufactured by Waterford Crystal with a diameter of 6 feet (1.8 m), but weighing 1,212 pounds (550 kg), it used LED lamps provided by Philips (which can produce 16,777,216 or 224 colors), with computerized lighting patterns developed by the New York City-based lighting firm Focus Lighting. The ball featured 9,576 energy-efficient bulbs that consumed the same amount of electricity as only 10 toasters. The 2008 ball was only used once, and was placed on display at Times Square Visitors Center following the event. For 2009, a larger version of the fifth ball was introduced. The updated ball is an icosahedral geodesic sphere lit by 32,256 LED lamps. At 12 feet (3.7 m) in diameter, containing 2,688 Waterford Crystal panels, with a weight of 11,875 pounds (5,386 kg), it is twice as large as the 2008 ball. It was also designed to be weatherproof, as the ball is now displayed atop One Times Square year-round following the celebrations.
Yearly themes for the ball's crystal panels continued; from 2008 to 2013, the ball contained crystal patterns that were part of a Waterford series known as "World of Celebration", including themes such as "Let There Be Light" and "Let There Be Peace". For 2014, all the ball's panels were replaced with new "Gift of Imagination" designs, which will begin a new theme series known as "Greatest Gifts".
The numerical sign indicating the year (which remains atop the tower along with the ball itself) also uses Philips LED lamps; the current "14" digits use bulbs from the company's "Hue" line of multi-color LED lamps, allowing them to also have computerized lighting cues.
Weather at midnight
According to the National Weather Service, from 1907 to 2011, the average temperature at midnight in New York City was 33.7 °F (0.9 °C). The coldest event was in 1917 when the temperature was 1 °F (−17 °C) (−18 °F (−28 °C) after wind chill), the second coldest was 11 °F (−12 °C) in 1962. The warmest ball drop was 58 °F (14 °C) in both 1965 and 1972. It has snowed during the ball drop just seven times out of 107 events (one being light snow)—1926, 1934, 1948, 1952, 1961, 1967, and 2009—and it has rained multiple times.
- "Nearly 800 Hard At Work On Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration". CBS New York. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
- "NYC ball drop goes 'green' on 100th anniversary". CNN. December 31, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2012.
- "Countdown to Times Square party; 1 million expected". CNN. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- "New Year's Eve security main focus for NYPD". CNN. December 30, 2011. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- "For New Year’s Eve, the Tie-Ins Erupt". The New York Times. December 13, 2010. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
- "A Very Confetti New Year's". Time. January 2, 2007. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
- Mansfield, Brian (December 26, 2013). "Etheridge added to Times Square New Year's Eve lineup". USA Today. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer (January 1, 2012). "Fans angry that Cee Lo changed 'Imagine' lyrics". msnbc.com. Retrieved April 18, 2012.
- Golgowski, Nina (January 1, 2012). "Cee Lo Green changes lyrics to Lennon's Imagine to include pro-religion message enraging fans". London: The Daily Mail. Retrieved April 19, 2012.
- "MAYOR GIULIANI ANNOUNCES NEW TRADITION FOR NEW YEAR'S EVE: COMMUNITY HERO TO LEAD TIMES SQUARE CELEBRATION". City of New York. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- Balkin, Adam (December 30, 2003). "Technology Helps Times Square New Year's Eve Ball Drop Run Smoothly". NY1. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- "Across America, traditions of ham hocks, Watch Nights and the Times Square ball". NBCNews.com. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- "CITY KEEPS THE BALL ROLLING IT'S ANOTHER ROUND IN TIMES SQ. FOR SEASONED PARTYERS". New York Daily News.
- "On the ball: Sang Lan was in the spotlight on New Year's...". Chicago Tribune. January 5, 1999. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- "DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS TO JOIN TIMES SQUARE BALL DROP DURING NEW YEARS EVE FESTIVITIES". City of New York. Retrieved October 10, 2013.
- "Ali To Drop Ball On New Year's". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- "Inaugural Address Of Mayor Michael Bloomberg". Gotham Gazette. January 1, 2002. Retrieved April 21, 2010.
- "Huge Times Square Crowd Watches Ball Drop". Fox News. Associated Press. January 1, 2003. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- "Bloomberg Announces Special Guest For New Year's 2004 Celebration In New York". Life. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- "Regis, Colin Powell ring in New Year's with'energy, enthusiasm'". USA Today. January 1, 2005. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- "Neither rain nor snow slows Times Sq. party". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- "Times Square New Year's gala turns 100". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- "Revelers ring in 2009 in Times Square". Associated Press. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- "America's Best High Schools Heads to Times Square". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- "Sgt. Salvatore Giunta in NYC for New Year’s Eve". Associated Press. Retrieved November 12, 2013.
- "Lady Gaga to perform on New Year’s Eve in Times Square". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 13, 2013.
- Seifman, David (December 28, 2012). "Rockettes to join Mayor Bloomberg on New Year's Eve". New York Post. Retrieved December 30, 2012.
- "Nearly 800 Hard At Work On Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration". CBS New York. CBS New York. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
- Costa, Robert (December 30, 2013). "Sotomayor to officiate at Times Square New Year’s Eve". Washington Post. Retrieved December 30, 2013.
- "Brrr-Braving the Ball Drop". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
- "Cruz To Perform ‘Imagine’ During New Year’s Celebration". CBSNewYork.com. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- "Live Times Square New Year's Eve Webcast: Watch Train, Cassadee Pope". Billboard.com. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- Stelter, Brian (December 31, 2011). "4 Decades Later, He Still Counts". New York Times. p. C1. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
- Levin, Gary (January 4, 2012). "Nielsens: Clark's 'Rockin' Eve,' football start year well". USA Today. Retrieved November 30, 2012.
- Barmash, Jerry. "Marking New Year’s Eve at Times Square Without Dick Clark". FishbowlNY. Retrieved December 21, 2012.
- "Countdown to 2012: What to watch on New Year’s Eve". The Daily Caller. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
- "Ring in the new year with Ryan, Carson or Anderson". Bradenton Herald. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
- "Anderson Cooper, Kathy Griffin Set to Host CNN’s New Years For Seventh Straight Year". TVNewser. Mediabistro. Retrieved November 10, 2013.
- "TV highlights: Networks compete for most entertaining New Year’s show". Washington Post. December 30, 2013. Retrieved December 31, 2013.
- "Snooki 'dropped' from Times Square New Year's Eve celebration". Staten Island Advance. December 30, 2010. Retrieved October 8, 2012.
- Taub, Erica A. (December 24, 2009). "New Year’s Eve in Times Square Is Now a Webcast". The New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- Shriver, Jerry (December 27, 2007). "Extra-bright ball to drop at Times Square". USA Today. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
- Oldenberg, Ann (December 29, 2005). "Battle of Times Square". USA Today. Retrieved January 5, 2013.
- Lynch, Stephen (December 31, 1999). "New Year's song remains ingrained in public mind". The Orange County Register.
- Collins, Scott (December 25, 2006). "Past, Present, and...Future?". Los Angeles Times. p. E1.
- Moore, Frazier (December 26, 2001). "Next week to be 25th New Year's Eve without Guy Lombardo". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. Retrieved January 1, 2007.
- Terry, Carol Burton. "New Guy Lombardo? Dick Clark sees New Year's tradition". The Milwaukee Sentinel. Retrieved December 19, 2012.
- Bobbin, Jay (December 28, 2000). "Dick Clark offers longer New Year's Eve special". Ellensburg Daily Record. Retrieved April 20, 2012.
- Feuer, Alan (December 27, 2009). "Deconstructed – Times Square Ball – Lots of Sparkle for a Swift Fall". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Kushner, David (December 30, 1999). "This New Year's Eve, Technology Will Drop the Ball". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- "History of Times Square". London: The Telegraph. July 27, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2013.
- McFadden, Robert D. (December 31, 1987). "'88 Countdown: 3, 2, 1, Leap Second, 0". The New York Times. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
- Sutton, Larry. "Bigger Ball to Peg Square". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 6, 2013.
- Barron, James (December 31, 2009). "When Party Is Over, the Ball Lands Here". The New York Times. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Goodnough, Abby (December 29, 1998). "Here Comes 2000, With Sponsors, Too; Official Products in the Right Place: Millennial Partying in Times Sq.". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- Kelley, Tina (December 30, 1999). "There's Another Countdown Before the Famed '10, 9, 8 . . .'". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- "New Year Theme Right On The Ball". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 9, 2013.
- "New Year’s Eve Preparations Under Way In Times Square". CBSNewYork.com. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- "Waterford and Times Square New Year’s Eve Reveal “Gift of Imagination” Crystal Design as Part of New 10-Year “Greatest Gifts” Series". Waterford Crystal press release. Retrieved December 27, 2013.
- "Philips hue to Mark Colorful Start to 2014 at Times Square New Year's Eve Celebration" (Press release). Philips. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
- "New Year's Eve Day and Ball Drop Weather". National Weather Service. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to New Year celebrations in Times Square.|