In New York, every year on December 31st up to 1 million people gather to celebrate ringing in the New Year with confetti and festivities in Times Square. Being one of the most famous New Year’s celebrations in the world, it also draws an estimated 100 million person television audience from the United States alone. Begun in 1904 to celebrate the official opening of the new headquarters of The New York Times, the original celebration did not include a Ball Drop but rather an impressive fireworks display.
The creation of the Ball Drop was due to city officials outlawing the fireworks displays in 1907. It was built thanks to the request of publisher Adolph Ochs for a spectacular midnight show to draw attention to the Square. Walter F Palmer, chief electrician for the New York Times created the first New Year’s Eve Ball. Through the years, the Ball has been replaced with lighter more efficient and modern balls. The newest version, redesigned in 2009, weighs in at 11,875 lbs, much heavier and larger than any of its predecessors. It is also 20% more energy efficient than the previous ball. When at its peak, the Ball is 475 feet above Times Square; it also now remains on the pole as a permanent fixture rather than placing and removing every New Year. The only years the Ball drop did not occur were between 1942 and 1943. Because of wartime lighting restrictions, the descent was stopped to prevent possible enemy attacked, revelers instead observed a moment of silence followed by chimes.
Several television networks have aired coverage of the Times Square New Year’s Eve Celebration & Ball Drop. Since it is an event held in a public square, there are no rights or exclusive coverage. ABC’s Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is probably the most well known, hosted for 35 years by Dick Clark and recently teamed up with Ryan Seacrest and Fergie on the west coast broadcast. NBC’s New Year’s Even Live, hosted in recent years by Carson Daly, also provides wonderful coverage of the event. CBS, Fox, Fox News, CNN and MTV have also carried coverage of the festivities. If you plan on attending the festivities be sure to dress warm and get there early, the streets begin closing at around 6 pm and the crowd will just keep growing.
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