Photo: 6sqft
What to know about the Times Square Ball Drop. Photo: 6sqft

As the clock nears midnight on December 31, people from around the world focus on the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square. The countdown gives everyone a chance to say goodbye to the past year and usher in a new year full of possibilities.

About the New Year's Eve Ball

Each year, millions of eyes from all over the world are focused on the sparkling Waterford Crystal Times Square New Year's Eve Ball. At 11:59 p.m., the Ball begins its descent as millions of voices unite to countdown the final seconds of the year, and celebrate the beginning of a new year full of hopes, challenges, changes and dreams, Times Square noted.

Before ringing in the new year, check out these fascinating facts about the ball drop and its history

1. The first rooftop celebration atop One Times Square, a fireworks display, took place in 1904 and was produced by The New York Times to inaugurate their new headquarters in Times Square. The first New Year’s Eve Ball lowering celebration atop One Times Square was in 1907.

2. Since 1907, seven versions of the Ball have been designed to signal the New Year. The first Ball was made of iron and wood, weighed 700 pounds, and had 100 light bulbs. It was built by a young immigrant metalworker named Jacob Starr. Today, the Ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs 11,875 pounds.

Photo: Just The News
Photo: Just The News

3. For the 2021 celebration, the Ball had a total of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that vary in size, and range in length from 4 ¾ inches to 5 ¾ inches per side.

4. The Ball is illuminated by 32,256 LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and can display a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns that create a kaleidoscope effect.

5. From 1942 to 1943, the annual ceremony was suspended due to the wartime “dimout” of lights in New York City. Crowds still gathered and had a minute of silence at midnight followed by chimes ringing out from sound trucks in Times Square.

6. This year, the 2021 numerals stand 7-feet high and use a total of 526 9-watt energy-efficient LED bulbs. The four numerals weigh a total of 1,080 lbs.

7. More than 1 ton of confetti is dropped in Times Square during the New Year's Eve celebration.

About "Time Balls"

The actual notion of a ball "dropping" to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year's Eve was ever celebrated in Times Square. The first "time-ball" was installed atop England's Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. This ball would drop at one o'clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers (a vital navigational instrument).

Around 150 public time-balls are believed to have been installed around the world after the success at Greenwich, though few survive and still work. The tradition is carried on today in places like the United States Naval Observatory in Washington, DC, where a time-ball descends from a flagpole at noon each day - and of course, once a year in Times Square, where it marks the stroke of midnight not for a few ships' captains, but for over one billion people watching worldwide.

What you need to know about Times Square’s virtual ball drop this New Year’s Eve

Obviously, the ball drop will look different this year. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, it's simply unsafe to have people gather in Times Square to watch the event. However — despite there being no crowds — there will be some live action in Times Square, and the ball will descend as usual. “One thing that will never change is the ticking of time and the arrival of a New Year at midnight on December 31st,” said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, in a press release. “But this year there will be significant new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement whatever limited live entertainment or experiences — still in development — will take place in Times Square."

Photo: Good Housekeeping
The ball drop will go virtual this year.Photo: Good Housekeeping

Fortunately, that means it'll be even easier to watch the event from afar. If you have cable, you can tune in to one of the major broadcasts on ABC, FOX, NBC, or CNN. If you've cut the cord, you can still watch a commercial-free webcast on social media or on Times Square's official website, TimesSquareNYC.org. With so many options, you should be able to stream the 2021 festivities on a range of devices, including Apple TV, Roku TV, Android TV, and Amazon Fire TV. You can also stream the 2021 New Year's Eve ball drop on your laptop and connect it to your television using an HDMI cable or Apple AirPlay, according to Good Housekeeping.

What channel is the New Year's Eve ball drop on?

If you'd like to watch the ball drop on your television, there are many ways to do so.

Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2021: The 49th year of this ball drop broadcast is co-hosted by Lucy Hale, Billy Porter, and Ciara, with musical performances expected to be announced shortly. It airs on ABC at 8 p.m. ET; it can also be viewed on ABC Live on most devices.

New Year's Eve Live with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen: For the fourth year in a row, Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen will count down the seconds to 2021 with performances and appearances by Christina Aguilere, 50 Cent, Shania Twain, and Keith Urban. It airs on CNN at 8 p.m. ET; it can also be viewed on CNNgo on most devices.

NBC's New Year's Eve 2021: Carson Daly hosts this NYE broadcast, which airs on NBC from 10 to 11 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. ET; it can also be viewed on the NBC app on most devices.

New Year's Eve with Steve Harvey: Live from Times Square, Steve Harvey hosts his ball drop special on FOX from 8 to 10 p.m. and 11 to 12:30 a.m.; it can also be viewed on FOX Now on most devices.

How to stream the 2021 New Year's Eve Times Square ball drop online for free:

Have no fear if you don't have cable. You can watch a commercial-free webcast of the 2021 Times Square NYE ball drop on Times Square's official website, TimesSquareNYC.org.

On the move? You can mobile stream the New Year's Eve ball drop at TimesSquareNYC.org, NewYearsEve.nyc, and TimesSquareBall.net.

You can also watch the event on social media at Facebook.com/TimesSquareNYC and Twitter.com/TimesSquareNYC.

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