It can take hours to complete one of the crystal triangles that adorn the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball. And there are 2,688 of them.
The 2016 design theme, the “Gift of Wonder,” is the third in the “Greatest Gifts” series. And after the clock hits midnight, and the lights are eventually switched off, craftsmen at Waterford Crystal will immediately commence constructing next year’s ball.
“What we do is take about two days off and then we start it right over again. It never ends,” said Tom Brennan, a master artisan at Waterford. “But it’s so much fun, it’s in our DNA. It just takes your breath away.”
This year’s ball is a hybrid of 288 new crystals with some from the previous two “Greatest Gifts” designs. The series continues through 2023, and each year’s ball will be a patchwork of the current theme and those of the past.
The “Gift of Wonder” design consists of triangular crystals with a starburst emanating from the center.
Brennan, whose own father worked for Waterford as well, said it’s extra special to know so many people all over the world will appreciate the handiwork.
“We’re in Manhattan, we’re at the center of the world, and it’s like Waterford Crystal is having one big party that everybody’s invited to,” he said. “When you look at the actual panel and the triangle itself, it’s like the starburst effect, it’s like reaching for the stars. Because the gift of wonder is all about humankind’s desire to reach for the stars — what’s out there: the unexplored, the unexpected, the unknown.”
The ball itself weighs nearly 12,000 pounds and stretches 12 feet across. Each triangle weighs about 7 ounces each.
“It creates billions of different light prisms,” Brennan said. “So what we do is we have high end technology, high end software, that creates this light spectacular. When you think about that, there’s going to be one billion people in the world watching this.”
The ball is a far cry from the original one in 1907. That ball, made of iron and wood and lit with 100 light bulbs, was about 5 feet long and 700 pounds, according to the Times Square Alliance.
And while performances are aplenty, the star of the show is the ball itself, said Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment and co-producer of the event.
“We set out to create a global celebration,” he said. “We try to have a little bit of everything for everybody. But at the end of the day, it’s all about the star of our show and the revelers below.”
By the numbers:
- 11,875: the weight, in pounds, of the Waterford ball
- 2,688: the number of Waterford crystal triangles
- 32,256: the number of LED lights
- 12: the diameter of the ball, in feet
- 4.75 to 5.75: the length of each crystal triangle side, in inches
- 7: the approximate weight, in ounces, of each crystal triangle