One of our great American traditions is the dropping of the ball at Times Square to usher in the New Year. Historically, the City of New York always held celebrations with a fireworks display. Unfortunately, the event could turn disastrous when hot embers rained down upon the streets and wood buildings of the City. In 1907, the New York Police Department outlawed fireworks and it fell to Robert Palmer, the chief electrician at the New York Times, to devise a solution. He designed, and had built, a 700 pound ball made of iron and wood illuminated with a hundred 25-watt bulbs attached to it. It descended from the mainmast of the USS New Mexico at midnight on December 31st, 1907.
The ball today is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds. It is surrounded by 2,688 Waterford Crystals which refracts the light of 32,256 LEDs. The ball begins its 70 foot descent at precisely 11:59 pm and, 60 seconds later, Times Square is illuminated as the millions of people in the crowd embrace each other in celebration.
But New York is not alone. In Key West, a large red high heel with a drag queen inside is lowered. Eastover, North Carolina has 3-foot, 30-pound wooden flea; Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin lowers a dead carp; Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania drops a wrench; Brasstown, North Carolina has its live opossum being lowered; and in Miami, a 35-foot neon orange climbs up the InterContinental Hotel in celebration.
Happy Holidays to you! May you and your families have a memorable New Year, however you may ring it in.