The New Year's Eve Ball Drop

Times Square in New York on New Year's Eve

How do you ring in the New Year?  Millions of people tune in to watch the ball drop over Times Square!  This is not a new tradition, because people have been celebrating New Year's Eve this way for over 100 years!

When the New York Times newspaper opened their new headquarters on December 31, 1903, they celebrated with a fireworks display, which they enjoyed so much they did the same thing for the next four years.  But, then they wanted to draw some more attention, so they came up with an idea for an even bigger spectacle.  They made a lighted ball that they lowered from a flagpole on the roof of their building.  It was a lot smaller than the one we see on TV today!


Ball Designs Over the Years

1907 – 5 feet wide

1920 – 5 feet wide, 400 pounds

1995 – Added rhinestones, and strobe lights

2000 – 6 feet wide, 1,070 pounds, 504 Waterford Crystal triangles, 168 halogen bulbs on the outside, 432 bulbs of clear, red, blue, green and yellow colors, along with strobe lights and spinning mirrors on the inside

2008 – 6 feet wide, 1,212 pounds, LEDs, computerized lighting pattern, can produce over 16.7 million colors   (This ball was only used once!)

2009 – 12 feet wide, 11,875 pounds 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles, 32, 256 LEDs, 50,000 Watts of energy to light up the ball   (This ball was too heavy to fit on the flagpole, so they had to build a new one, which rises 475 feet above the street)

Confetti Falling in Time Square
The original New Year's Eve ball used in Time Square
Did You Know?

The first New Year's Eve ball was dropped in 1907
The current ball is too big to take up and down, so it stays on the flagpole all year long
Over 1 million people go to Times Square on New Year's Eve, and over 1 billion people watch it on TV
3,000 pounds of confetti are blasted over the crowd at midnight
The coldest ball drop ever recorded was in 1917.  It was 1 degree, with a windchill of –18