You can watch the ball drop on TV or online from anywhere, but if you happen to be in New York on December 31, Times Square is a classic place to ring in the new year.
The New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square is co-produced by the Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment and takes a year of planning to put on.
Here is just some of the planning that goes into organising the biggest New Year’s bash in the world.
Planning for New Year’s Eve begins the day after last year’s bash.
When the streets are finally cleaned of noisemakers and confetti, planning for the next New Year’s Eve celebration begins. This includes booking entertainment, making the ball bigger and brighter, working with sponsors, and all the other things viewers don’t see going on behind the camera.
The ball today weighs almost 17 times what the first ball weighed.
Made of iron and wood, the first New Year’s Eve ball to be dropped from the flagpole at One Times Square in 1907 weighed 700 pounds. The ball today weighs 11,875 pounds. The celebration begins when the ball is raised at 6 p.m.
The televised event gets bigger and better every year.
While a million people gather in Times Square to watch the live performances every year, another million and a half from over 200 countries tune in to watch the event online from a live webcast, which you can also view on your smartphone through the Times Square Ball App or the Times Square Crossroads App. Jessie J will headline the performances this year, singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” moments before midnight; she will be joined by Daya, Wiz Khalifa, Demi Lovato, Carrie Underwood, and others.
The celebration continues Dick Clark’s tradition of “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve.”
The program still takes the name of its original host of 40 years, though today it’s hosted by TV and radio personality Allison Hagendorf who, for her fourth year, will ring in the New Year with a few co-hosts.
The confetti that rains down on Times Square has messages written on it.
Pick up a piece of confetti from the street and you’ll likely find a note on there written by someone wishing for good things for the next year, or letting go of something from the past one. The Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment actually do a trial run of the confetti a couple of days before New Year’s Eve.
Revelers are ushered into “party pens” just before 6 p.m.
Police officers start letting people, in groups, into sectioned-off areas known as “party pens” just before the New Year’s Eve bash begins at 6 p.m. (though many people wait around hours before then to get a good view of the ball drop). But once you’re in, coming and going is not permitted.
Each year someone new gets to drop the ball.
Each year the mayor and a special guest pushes the Waterford crystal button that activates the descent of the ball down the Times Square flagpole. Last year, representatives from the International Rescue Committee had the honour; this year, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will be joined by special guest Global Citizen, represented by Global Poverty Project CEO Hugh Evans.
The countdown to the new year always ends with a kiss at midnight.
Kissing at midnight is a New year’s tradition, one which hundreds of thousands of revelers in Times Square uphold. The tradition is even turned into a contest, sponsored by Nivea, where a winning couple gets to kiss on stage.
This year, Americans watching the celebration on TV or online will also get to vote for one of two couples to be the “First Couple of 2016.” The winning couple will be married and outfitted in Times Square by tuxedo company Generation Tux founder George Zimmer himself.
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