The greatest New Year’s Eve celebration for the United States is the Time’s Square Ball Drop. The first ball drop was in 1907 and so far there have been seven balls.
The first was made of iron and wood and adorned with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs. It was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. In 1920, a 400 pound Ball made entirely of wrought iron replaced the original.
In 1955, the iron Ball was replaced with an aluminum Ball weighing a mere 150 pounds. In the 1980s, red light bulbs a green stem converted the Ball into an apple for the “I Love New York” marketing campaign. In 1995, the Ball was upgraded with aluminum skin, rhinestones, strobes, and computer controls.
For the millennium celebration in 2000, the New Year’s Eve Ball was redesigned by Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting. The crystal Ball combined the latest in lighting technology with traditional materials.
In 2007, for the 100th anniversary of the Times Square Ball Drop tradition, Waterford Crystal and Philips Lighting crafted a spectacular new LED crystal Ball. The incandescent and halogen bulbs were replaced by Philips Luxeon LED lighting technology that dramatically increased the brightness and color capabilities of the Ball.
The beauty and energy efficiency of the Centennial Ball inspired the building owners of One Times Square to build the permanent Big Ball weighing nearly six tons and twelve feet in diameter. The 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles are illuminated by 32,256 Philips Luxeon LEDs. This Big Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball is now a year-round attraction sparkling above Times Square.
The notion of a ball “dropping” to signal the passage of time dates back to the 19th century. The first “time-ball” was installed on top of England’s Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This ball would drop at one o’clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers.
Around 150 public time-balls are believed to have been installed around the world after the success at Greenwich, though 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.
Summarized from timessquareball.net
As a distinctively national tradition, “drops” have sprung up all over the United States, the most famous of which is the dropping of a live possum in a glass box in Brassville, North Carolina. Brooksville, Florida drops a tangerine. In Winter Haven, Florida a giant Llego is dropped, but at 8 p.m. for the senior citizens there.
In Perry, Georgia a buzzard is lowered. In Vincennes, Indiana a giant 18-foot, 500-pound steel-and-foam Watermelon Ball is raised 100 feet in the air during the 60-second countdown at midnight, then the replica releases 11 real locally-grown watermelons.
Ann Arbor, Michigan drops a hockey puck. Detroit drops a giant D. In Niagara Falls, New York a giant Gibson guitar is dropped from the Hard Rock Cafe. Chagrin Falls, Ohio drops a giant popcorn ball and Elmore, Ohio drops a giant sausage. McVeytown, Pennsylvania drops an ice cream cake while Mechanicsville drops a wrench.
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