Friday, January 02, 2009

Has NY Dropped the Ball?

In the last 60 seconds of 2008, as millions of people around the world watched, the ball in Times Square dropped to usher in the new year.

Did you see it?

No really, did you actually see the ball drop? Or did you see it descend, shuffle, shimmy, wobble, creep, slither or fall in excruciating slow motion? Or maybe you were blinded by the 5 giant, brilliantly lit, smoke and fireworks sprouting Toshiba signs below it along with the giant Toshiba countdown screen. Even at 12' it was hard to see the ball awash in all that light. If you were watching ABC's Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest you may have have missed it altogether.and nary a replay in sight.

I am mourning the days when the ball actually dropped. They let it loose from it's tether at the top of the flagpole and it dropped like a lead balloon; swiftly, quickly, rapidly like the speed of light. If you blinked you would miss it.

Things changed in the 1980's when a red and a green lit "big apple" globe were added to celebrate NY's "I Love New York" campaign. In 1988 the flashy era ended and the ball was once again lit with plain white lights. In 1989 however the ball had it's first major face lift and rhinestones and strobes were added. The biggest change happened in 2000, the millennium year, when a massive 1,0750 lb ball was built with Waterford Crystals. This year the ball is even bigger, more expensive, double in size to 12' in diameter, 11, 875 lbs with 2668 Waterford Crystals and 32,000 LED lights.

Gone are the days of 400 lb, 5', iron and wood ball featuring 25 watt lights in 1904. Gone also is the ball I remember watching every year from 1955 to the late 1980's to the tunes of Guy Lombardo's band as I watched the elegantly dressed party goers dancing the night away in the Waldorf Astoria ballroom; a slimmer, 2oo lb version made of aluminum with simple white lights.

Now THAT was the ball that DROPPED!

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