Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Why does that Ball Drop Anyway?

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'


Mike said...

A splendid recount of this tradition.

You and I have been there, and I willingly admit that my only memory of it was the celebratory roar of the crowd when the ball reached the bottom. It's something you have to witness firsthand to fully comprehend. The overwhelming positivity in the air is electric; and crowd's hope for good things in the new year is a palpable force. Every year it makes me momentarily forget our blundering progress here and abroad.

There's nothing quite like it.

Amy Barta said...

Just listening to some Guru Kola and wondered what on earth you were doing :) How bout an email and a get together with me and Jared????

TBene said...

I'm spending New Year's Eve at St. George Island at a rented house full of friends. Our ball dropping will be the moon over the ocean... a whole different kind of peace in the world. :)
Your comment on Dick Clark REALLY made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Viola? Isn't that a musical instrument of some sort? And NOT to be confused with "Voila!"

Jarod said...

True about Viola, but I'm speaking, of course, in the ancient tradition of the Googamokabacka tribe, who always interchanged expressions of discovery with musical intruments. For example, "Timpani" means "Hey, there's a meteor heading right towards us"