100th Ball Drop Marks New Year in Times Square

More than a million people filled Times Square, the eastern terminus of the Lincoln Highway, to celebrate the new year with the 100th drop of a giant lit ball. An all-new version features 9,576 light-emitting diodes behind 625 triangular Waterford crystals and aluminum frame. At 11:59 pm, December 31, the ball dropped down a 77-foot pole in 60 seconds atop 1 Times Square (not to street level). Here’s a video of it being assembled:

There were also 110 certified confetti engineers who tossed out 2 tons of confetti by hand from the tops of buildings.

The ball’s LED bulbs are smaller but more than twice as bright as last year’s lights, which were a spiky mix of 600 incandescent and halogen bulbs in 4 colors. It was lit for 6 hours but used only the electricity of 10 toasters. The new lights can create more than 16 million colors (and video imagery) but were limited to 25. The $30,000 in crystal is just a small part of the ball’s $1.1 million value.

Dropping a ball has been a way to synchronize clocks since the 1800s. The first ball in Times Square was made of wood and iron and lit with 100 25-watt incandescent bulbs. It replaced a new year’s fireworks display started in 1904 that was later outlawed by city officials. Three other balls have been used since then, and now this new one, the fifth. For the next 11 month, it will rest in a vault 50 feet below 1 Times Square, beside the fourth ball.

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