Times Square went green with the New Year’s ball, and you can do the same.
It is a New Year’s tradition that has become just as synonymous with the holiday as making a resolution – the lighted ball in Times Square. At 11:59 p.m., the infamous ball begins its descent, as partygoers countdown to another year. While the Times Square Ball is commonly associated with the late Dick Clark, the tradition actually dates back more than a century.
The first NYE celebration happened in 1904 atop One Times Square, then home to the New York Times and namesake for the infamous plaza. The first ball drop commenced three years later, and while the original building still exists, it is in a modernized form featuring billboards, LED signs and news tickers.
The first New Year’s ball was much smaller, and not nearly as powerful as its modern-day version. “New Year’s Ball 1.0” only weighed 700 pounds, and featured 100 25-watt bulbs. It was 5 feet in diameter, compared to the current ball, which is 12 feet.
So how did the big ball come to be? Initially, fireworks signaled the beginning of the New Year, but a citywide ban put those out two years later. Needing a new idea, the designers got their inspiration from a time ball on Lower Broadway, which lowered every day at 12 noon, allowing others to synchronize their watches. Thus, the familiar lighted ball was born, and has remained in place since December 31, 1907 in all but two years. In 1942 and ’43, during World War II, New York City participated in a “Dim-out”, where the city lowered its lights to avoid enemy attacks.
As times change, so does the technology, and the Times Square Ball is no exception. The ball – which now weighs 11,875 pounds – contains nearly 2,700 Waterford Crystal triangles, illuminated by more than 32,000 LED lights. The ball went green with LEDs for its 100th anniversary in 2007, with improved results. Check out a few facts on why the greener Times Square Ball is indeed a brighter option:
• Each LED bulb lasts 30,000 hours, about 30 times longer than the halogen lights previously used
• Because of the LEDs energy efficiency, the ball can remain lit year-round
• Using LED bulbs saves about 88% energy, as opposed to traditional bulbs
While Waterford Crystals are pretty fancy (read: expensive), light bulbs similar to the ones used in Times Square are available for everyday use. In fact, switching to energy-efficient lighting could significantly reduce carbon dioxide output, and save billions in energy costs! It is an environmentally-sound decision that saves you money in many ways!