Having a ball: Times Square gets its crystal orb ready for the big New Year’s countdown

Building the Times Square New Year's ball for 2023
Electricians Paul Alvarado and Anthony Giordano install a Waterford Crystal on a panel. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

With just four more days to go until ushering in 2023, the countdown to New York City’s biggest party of the year in the “Crossroads of the World” is on. 

On Tuesday, crews put the finishing touches on the New Year’s Eve ball at One Times Square in Manhattan, replacing 192 of the 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles. The triangles are adorned with circles of overlapping, entwined hearts and present this year’s theme, “Gift of Love.”

The world-famous icon, synonymous with ringing in the new year, made its debut in 1907. Back then, the ball only measured 5 feet in diameter, weighed 700 pounds, and was lit up with 100 25-watt light bulbs. By comparison, the 2022-23 version is 12 feet in diameter, weighs over 11,000 pounds, and is illuminated by 32,256 LEDs.

Tom Brennan, master craftsman and spokesperson for Waterford Crystal, explained that the ‘Gift of Love’ is the highlight of the ten-year “gift” series, which Waterford started planning 13 years ago and included the ‘Gift of Serenity’ and the ‘Gift of Hope,’ among others. 

“We kept [The Gift of Love] for the 10th year of the 10-year cycle,” Brennan said. “How do you get better than that gift of love? And that’s why this year is very important for so many people. Coming out of the two years that we’ve all been through, everybody on the planet has been touched by that. But I think this year, more than ever, we’ve got to look forward to 2023 with a sense of optimism and a sense of hope and about making things better than they were before.”

Tom Harris, president of the Times Square Alliance, explained that the ‘gift’ series began with the “Gift of Imagination” in 2014. Harris shared that he was excited about ringing in 2023; this year’s celebration figures to look very different from last year, when only 15,000 people were allowed to attend and had to adhere to COVID restrictions. 

Electricians Paul Alvarado and Anthony Giordano install a panel with Waterford Crystal on the New Year’s Eve Ball. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
Tom Brennan, Master Craftsman and Spokesperson with Waterford Crystal, holds up One of the 192 Waterford Crystal triangles circle with overlapping hearts titled the ‘Gift of Love.’ Photo by Gabriele Holtermann
The New Year’s Eve Ball in Times Square in New York City. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“You can just feel the energy in Time Square,” Harris said. “It seems like we’re finally back to welcoming pre-pandemic numbers to Times Square.”

Harris explained that there were no mask mandates this year, but wanted people to be responsible. 

“Everyone has a different risk factor,” Harris said. “If people feel more comfortable with a mask, then they should wear a mask, but there will be no mandates.”

Electricians Paul Alvarado and Anthony Giordano with AMA Signs & Electric were in charge of installing the triangles and the panels. 

Paul Alvarado is known to his family as the “New Year’s Ball Guy” because he’s been making sure that the ball drop goes off without a hitch for the past six years. 

“We’ll be up here making sure the ball comes down,” Alvarado said.

It’s Anthony Giordano’s first time making sure the 10-second countdown is a success. When asked if he had ever attended the New Year’s celebration in the city’s most famous landmark as a reveler, he just grinned and said, “I’m a New Yorker.”