So true, so true - after a hundred years, the ball dropping in Times Square is still one of the coolest traditions around. It is useless to resist - you will watch it, you will smile and you WILL have hope for humanity. I don't care how many times KISS reunites for that god-awful New Years reunion concert, grudgingly putting on the makeup and rehashing their greatest hits like jaded telemarketers...the site of the giant glowing crystal cuts through the commercialism like a senile driver, leaving you flush and happy, your cheeks glowing with the spirit of New Years (or "spirits", to be more accurate). It is also the only time expensive crystal can fall to the ground and people actually cheer it on. At any rate, here's WHY this happens:
- 1904 - The owner of the New York Times, Alfred Ochs, throws a huge party in the recently renamed Times Square to celebrate the headquarters opening. Overnight, Times Square becomes New York's New Years Destination. It's the Bee's Knees, Sugar-Daddy!
- 1907 - The party-animals at city hall ban the fireworks display, so Alfred decides to lower a 700-pound illuminated ball from his building's flagpole instead. Viola! The tradition begins! This was actually a derision of an early practice of lowering time balls for visual synchronization of navigation chronometers, but tell that to a drunken flapper and you are sure to lose the next dance.
1942-43 - Ball is not dropped due to war-time "dimout".
1972 - Dick Clark starts his "New Years Rockin' Eve" to the delight of Millions. To the confusion of millions, Dick Clark refuses to age.
2006 - Billions world wide watch the ball drop thanks to Satellite communication. Father Time uses cellphone to announce Baby New Year
So there you have it. Have fun on New Years, bang pots, be safe and blow Alfred Ochs a big ol'