Every year, upward of a million people in Times Square — and more than a billion worldwide — watch the ball drop as they count down to the new year. As you tune in or watch in person this go around, here’s everything you need to know about the ball.
It weighs nearly six tons. When the first New Year’s Eve Ball dropped in Times Square in 1907, it was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. After several updates since then, the current ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds. It’s so big, the flagpole atop One Times Square had to be extended from 130 feet to about 470 feet above the street, and a few floors of the building had to be reinforced to hold the weight of the nearly 6-ton ball.
It’s comprised of thousands of Waterford crystals. That giant sphere is comprised of 2,688 crystal panels, to be exact — all designed in Waterford, Ireland, and strong enough to withstand the elements year-round on the roof of One Times Square. This year, 288 crystals will be replaced with new ones designed to reflect the theme, “Gift of Fortitude.”
It’s illuminated with tens of thousands of LEDs. Incandescent and halogen bulbs are so last century; since 2007, the Times Square Ball has used state-of-the-art Philips Luxeon LED lighting technology that has increased the brightness and color capabilities of the ball. There are 32,256 LEDs total that can create a palette of more than 16 million colors and billions of patterns for a kaleidoscope effect.
It’s “priceless.” From the materials themselves to the manpower needed to put on the annual drop, organizers say the Times Square Ball is “priceless,” though they do concede that it’s valued at more than $1 million.
You can own a replica of it. Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Waterford sell commemorative pieces of the Times Square Ball, including an ornament made out of Waterford crystal for $100.