|Workers guided the cables during Sunday's test of the new Times Square New Year's Eve ball in Times Square. (Tina fineberg/associated press)|
NEW YORK - More than a million revelers in Times Square cheered as the giant crystal ball made its 100th drop last night and a ton of confetti rained down on the urban canyon, ushering in the new year.
A century ago, the tradition began with a 700-pound ball of wood and iron, lit with 100 25-watt incandescent bulbs. This year's event featured an energy-efficient sphere clad in Waterford crystals, with 9,576 light-emitting diodes that generated a kaleidoscope of colors.
Officials said the energy-efficient bulbs used about the same amount of electricity as 10 toasters.
Philips Lighting, which created the light-emitting diodes, or LED bulbs, specifically for the event, says they are smaller but more than twice as bright as last year's lights, which were a mix of more than 600 incandescent and halogen bulbs. And the new lights can create more than 16 million colors for a kaleidoscope of hues against the 672 Waterford Crystal triangles.
"The whole world looks up to New York's New Year's Eve. I'm proud to be able to save energy and show off this technology to the world with such a special event," said Kaj den Daas, chairman of Philips Lighting North America.
The ball was first dropped for the New Year's Eve celebration in 1907. Over the century, the ball was redesigned five times. In 1999, it was made from crystal to welcome the new millennium.
This time, the motif was "Let There Be Light" and included a stylized, radiating sunburst on each of the crystal triangles.
The new design and technology "will make the ball glow like nothing else," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, a business group in charge of the event.
The ball was tested Sunday afternoon, making its way slowly up and down the 77-foot flagpole atop 1 Times Square with bursts of color.
For the first time, wishes from people around the world were included among the ton of confetti dropped at midnight. People wrote wishes by visiting the Times Square Information Center or by typing a message on a "virtual wishing wall" online.
The Times Square Alliance, the business group running the event, handed out thousands of balloons and mittens to the crowd.