The new energy-efficient New Year's Eve ball will drop at midnight tonight. (Photos courtesy Times Square)
The new ball is lighted with 9,576 energy-efficient bulbs that use about the same amount of electricity as it takes to power a single kitchen oven.
Philips Lighting, which created the light-emitting diodes, or LED bulbs, for the event, says they are more than twice as bright as the lights on last year's ball, which were a mix of more than 600 incandescent and halogen bulbs.
The new lights can create more than 16 million colors against 672 Waterford crystal triangles arrayed in stylized, radiating sunbursts that cover the ball's surface.
"We should all look this spectacular at our 100th birthday party," said Jeff Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, co-producer of New Year's Eve in Times Square. "The combination of Waterford Crystal and Philips LED technology have created a dazzling new look for this worldwide tradition of celebrating the New Year."
"The New Year's Eve Ball, like Times Square, is an exciting blend of technology and tradition," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, the other event co-producer.
"The ball this year has been reinvented, just as Times Square is constantly reinventing itself," he said. "In its own way it reflects the spirit of change and renewal that is at the heart of the New Year's Eve celebration for billions of people around the globe."
New Year's Eve 2007 in Times Square, New York City
Times Square New Year's Eve 2008 features a star-studded lineup of live entertainment with the Pontiac Garage, Kid Rock, the Bravery and Velvet Revolver playing to a million revelers in Times Square and a billion TV viewers around the world.
Revelers began celebrating New Year's Eve in Times Square as early as 1904, but it was in 1907 that the New Year's Eve Ball made its maiden descent from the flagpole atop One Times Square.
This original ball, constructed of iron and wood and adorned with 100 25-watt light bulbs, was five feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. In 1920, a 400 pound ball made entirely of iron replaced the original.
The ball has been lowered every year since 1907, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1943, when its use was suspended due to the wartime "dimout" of lights in New York City. The crowds who still gathered in Times Square in those years greeted the New Year with a moment of silence followed by chimes ringing out from One Times Square.
Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.