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New York Daily Photo: Times Square Ball Drop
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Monday, 31 December 2007

Times Square Ball Drop

Dropping the ball in Times Square is the world's most well known New Year's Eve celebration. Nearly one million people attend in person with millions around the world watching the televised event. The millennium celebration saw two million people - I was one of them. The photo was taken on Sunday afternoon and preparations were already underway - television crews were setting up. (Note: click on the photo to enlarge it - if you look carefully, you can see the 2008 sign and pole for the ball above it.)
The ball drop has been an annual event since 1907, making this year the 100th anniversary. The ball itself has gone through numerous incarnations over the last one hundred years. It's earliest construction was of iron and wood with 25 watt bulbs - weighing 700 lbs. In 1920 it was replaced with a ball entirely of iron (400 lbs) and then in 1955 with an aluminum ball weighing only 150 lbs. It remained unchanged until the 1980s, when red light bulbs and a green stem converted the Ball into an apple for the "I Love New York" marketing campaign (from 1981 to 1988). In 1989, the traditional Ball with white light bulbs reappears. In 1995, the Ball gets an aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobe lights, and computerized controls. The aluminum ball was lowered for the last time in 1998, when it is replaced by a all new geodesic design from Waterford Crystal with the latest lighting technology for the millennium celebration - 504 crystal triangles, 696 lights including 96 strobes, 90 rotating pyramids. Read more about this remarkable, dazzling creation and the event here. This ball has been retired and is the property of the owners the One Times Square building. An entirely new ball has been crafted for this year's 100th anniversary by Waterford Crystal with 672 double cut crystal triangles. An all new lighting design was created by Focus Lighting utilizing Philips LED technology (replacing the halogen bulbs of the previous design). With 9,576 Philips Luxeon LEDs, it is more than twice as bright with enhanced color capabilities - 16.7 million to be exact. The ball was unveiled in October and on display at Macy's until December 10th - sorry I missed it. Had it not been for researching this article, I would have been completely unaware of the anniversary and new ball - I look forward to watching the televised drop and hope you do the same. Happy New Year!

Note: Time Balls actually date back to 1829, when the first one was erected in England by its inventor Robert Wauchope, a Captain in the Royal Navy. These were used for sailors to check their chronometers. They became obsolete with the advent of radio time signals. Over sixty still remain worldwide.


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