New York City’s Times Square is home to the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the world. The most iconic moment of the party is when the Waterford Crystal ball drops from One Times Square to mark the start of the new year. Of course, you already knew that. But there’s a good chance you don’t yet know these other fun facts about the fete:
1. The tradition of the ball dropping from 1 Times Square goes all the way back to December of 1907.
People began gathering to celebrate the New Year in Times Square, sans ball, a few years before that; in 1907, they witnessed an illuminated wood-and-iron ball descending a flagpole to herald the arrival of the new year.
2. The idea came from the publisher of The New York Times, and was inspired by “time balls” in many other cities.
Those “time balls,” which became popular in the 19th century, would drop from buildings every day at a certain time to help citizens set their watches. The one at NYC’s Western Union headquarters would do so at noon.
3. Since then, the ball has been missing for only two years.
Those were 1942 and 1943, when World War II brought lighting restrictions.
4. The current Waterford Crystal ball can display more than 16 million colors.
That includes all your favorites. Blue? It’s in there! Yellow? You bet. Pink? Yes! You can ask about other specific colors, but we’re pretty sure they’ve got it.
5. The ball has more lights than it used to, and it’s heavier.
The original Times Square ball had just 100 lightbulbs on it and weighed 700 pounds. Today’s ball, a geodesic sphere (like Epcot Center at Disney World), contains more than 32,000 LEDs and weighs in at a whopping 11,875 pounds.
For more information on experiencing New Year’s Eve in Times Square, see our guide.