On December 31, 2011, people all over the world will welcome in the New Year watching the 2011 Time Ball drop in Times Square in New York City or by dropping objects like pickles and acorns to pursue prosperity in 2012. Many celebrations focus on time balls to calculate and welcome the New Year. Other towns and cities across the country drop a variety of items, according to local tradition or just plain tradition. Talbot, Maryland will feature a Crab Drop at its first night celebration, Mobile, Alabama will drop a twelve foot moon pie at its New Year's Eve celebration, and Atlanta, Georgia, will drop an 800 pound peach at its celebration to ring in 2012.
The 2011 Times Square Time Ball
The Times Square ball that will drop on December 31, 2011, measures 12 feet in diameter, weighs 11, 875 pounds and is covered with 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles of varied sizes. The crystals produce millions of vibrant colors and countless patterns, and the New Years Eve celebration at Times Square produces millions of excited spectators to count down and welcome the New Year.
New Years Eve Celebrated in Times Square is a Century Old Tradition
People celebrated New Year's Eve in Times Square as early as 1904, but it took until 1907 for the tradition of the New Year's Eve Ball to begin. In 1907, the first New Year's Eve Ball which measured five feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds descended from the flagpole on top of One Times Square. Jacob Starr, a young immigrant metalworker, built the ball from iron and wood and lit it with one hundred 25 -watt bulbs. For most of the Twentieth Century, the company that Jacob founded, Artkraft Strauss, lowered the ball every year.
The New Year's Ball has descended every year since 1907 except for 1942 and 1943, when officials cancelled the ceremony because of the wartime dimming of New York City lights. Despite the absence of a ball, crowds still congregated in Times Square and welcomed the New Year with a minute of silence. After that chimes rang from sound trucks parked at the base of the tower, a continuation of earlier Trinity Church celebrations where crowds gathered to "ring out the old, ring in the new."
Ball Dropping Symbolizes Time Passing
The idea of a ball "dropping" to symbolize time passing goes back into the mists of time far distant from Times Square to Greenwich, England. The English installed the first time ball on top of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833. The time ball would drop every afternoon at one o'clock so that the captains of nearby ships could accurately set their chronometers which were essential to navigation.
After the time balls had proven themselves at Greenwich, about 150 of them were installed around the world. The United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. carries on the tradition. Every day at noon a time ball descends from the flagpole. In Times Square every year a time ball descends on the stroke for midnight to symbolize the coming of the New Year for over one billion excited people around the world.
People Drop Everything from Pickles to Acorns to Welcome the New Year
Millions of people watch the time ball drop in New York's Time Square and millions more watch more unusual items drop to welcome in the New Year before their eyelids close over the New Year.
Mount Olive, North Carolina, is celebrating its thirteenth annual New Year's Eve Pickle Drop on December 31, 2011, at the corner of Cucumber and Vine Streets. The New Year's Eve pickle descends the Mount Olive Pickle Company flagpole at 7 p.m. midnight - that's 7 o'clock EST-which also happens to be midnight Greenwich Mean Time. Festival organizers say "that way we are official, we shout Happy New Year! and we don't have to stay up until midnight!"
Since 1992, Raleigh, the capital city of North Carolina, has earned its title, "The City of Oaks," by literally dropping an acorn as a symbol of new beginnings every New Year's Eve. The 2011 Acorn Drop marks the 20th Anniversary of Raleigh's First Night New Year's Eve Celebrations and the Acorn Drop. The acorn weighs approximately 1,250 pounds and measures about ten feet, and instead of investing in a gigantic acorn storage unit 364 days of the year, the town of Raleigh proudly displays the acorn in Moore Square. Then on New Year's Eve, technicians transport the acorn by crane to participate in the midnight count down.
Eastport, Maine, is ringing in the New Year with its seventh consecutive year of New Year's Eve festivities with the Great Sardine and Maple Leaf Drop. To honor both the United States and Canada, the first drop will be a Canadian maple leaf to honor Eastport's Canadian neighbors and then a giant sardine will be dropped at midnight to commemorate the regions historic sardine fishing and canning past.
|Crowd waiting for ball to drop|
Pittsburgh Raises the Ball
Pennsylvania has numerous towns and cities that drop a variety of objects to welcome in the New Year. Hummelstown drops a lollipop. Duncannon drops a sled, Richland drops a cigar, Steelton drops an entire steamroller and Frogtown, a frog.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, a 1,000 pound ball titled "The Future of Pittsburgh," will ascend 74 feet at midnight on December 31, 2011, to the top of Penn Avenue Place as people count down the passing of the old year and the beginning of the New Year. Organizers of Pittsburgh's First Night. Family celebration decided to raise the ball instead of dropping it as a symbol of Pittsburgh's revitalization and the hope of a Happy New Year and prosperous future.
But no matter where a town drops an item or if it is a peach or a pickle, the sentiment is the same, "Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year!"