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A New Year with Old Traditions

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Happy 2013! Photo by: asterix611

One of the things I like about living on the West Coast is watching the ball drop in Times Square at 9 P.M. on television. For me, that’s when the new year begins, and it’s still early in the evening.  But joining the crowd at the Crossroads of the World, suffering in the cold without a restroom in sight, is on many people’s bucket list.

This past New Year’s Eve an estimated one million folks donned their warmest jackets and most comfortable shoes with a heavy pair of socks, fashion be damned, to come together to watch the illuminated Waterford crystal ball make its descent.  At the last minute, they made their voices heard:  sixty, forty, twenty, ten, nine, eight….

The gathering at what is now called One Times Square first took place in 1904. When the new headquarters of The New York Times was built, Alfred Ochs, the newspaper’s owner, threw a New Year’s Eve celebration there sparing no expense.  Over 200,000 noisy, cheering revelers attended an all-day street festival that culminated in a fireworks display set off from the Times Tower. It was a much different ceremony than the ones that had been held at Trinity Church in lower Manhattan for years before.

When the city banned the fireworks display a few years later, Ochs kept the party going.  He arranged to have an iron and wood ball illuminated with one hundred 25-watt light bulbs lowered from the tower flagpole precisely at midnight to welcome 1908. And a tradition was born.

Seven different versions of the ball have been used, including transforming it into an apple with a green stem as part of the “I l Love New York” marketing campaign in the eighties.

This year the triangles comprising the crystal ball, which can display more than millions of colors and patterns, were imprinted with designs denoting peace, friendship, love, courage, joy, and light. In addition to the hale and hearty (and presumably youthful) on site, another billion people around the world partook in the ritual via satellite technology.  We all apparently want the same thing.

Could this be our year?

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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