Tonight at 11:59 pm, over one billion people all across the world will be watching as the “ball” drops in New York City’s Times Square. That got me to wondering about the history of the New Year’s Eve “ball” and what I discovered was intriguing:
· The 1st "time-ball" was installed on top of England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833
· After the success of that event, approximately 150 such time-balls were installed around the world. But few survive and still work.
· The tradition is carried on today in places like the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, where a time-ball descends from a flagpole at noon each day - and of course, once a year in Times Square, where it marks the stroke of midnight.
· New York actually held a New Years celebration as early as 1904, but it wasn’t until 1907 that they “dropped” an iron and wood ball and adorned with a hundred 25-watt light bulbs. It was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds
· From that date until today, the ball has dropped every year except 1942 and 1943 during the City’s WWII “dim-outs”. Crowds still gathered in Times Square during those years and greeted the New Year with a moment of silence followed by chimes ringing out from One Times Square.
· Over the years, the “time-ball” has undergone about 4 re-designs – the most recent one was created for the Millennial celebration in the year 2000 by Waterford Crystal. It’s a geodesic sphere, six feet in diameter, and weighing approximately 1,070 pounds. It’s covered with a total of 504 crystal triangles that vary in size.
· And each of those triangles has a special designation: Hope for Fellowship, Hope for Peace, Hope for Wisdom, Hope for Unity, Hope for Courage, Hope for Healing, etc.
The Name of the ball itself? The Star of Hope