Since 1907, people from around the world have gathered in Times Square to ring in the new year with the lowering of a giant, glittering globe. Though the ball has changed — the original was made of iron, wood and 100 25-watt light bulbs, and a six-ton, Waterford crystal ball covered in 32,276 LED lights is used today — the celebration is the same, just a bit bigger.
Up to a million partygoers are expected to flood Times Square on Wednesday night, many of them claiming their spots outside hours before the celebration kicks off. But the party isn’t just for those who are willing to brave the New York City cold. Over a billion people worldwide are slated to watch a live-stream of the festivities, which will include performances from Taylor Swift, Idina Menzel and the USO Show Troupe.
Times Square’s own Twitter account has been documenting the progression of party preparations throughout the day, including the inflation of thousands of balloons to be released at midnight.
An icon in its own right, the Times Square Ball even has its own, separate Twitter account and has been tweeting about the freezing temperatures of New Year’s Eves past, accompanied by photos and videos of the hordes of dedicated revelers who were already filling the streets of Times Square by noon.
While Times Square may still hold the title for biggest party of the night, other American cities are putting their own spin on the traditional ball drop.
According to NBC News, Las Cruces, N.M., is introducing a new tradition to welcome the start of 2015: lowering a 15-foot illuminated chili in the center of town at midnight. Other cities are planning similar demonstrations with giant, lighted versions of their own local symbols. Flagstaff, Ariz., will drop a 6-foot pinecone, while at midnight in Atlanta, a peach will drop, as well as a musical note in Nashville, and a 600-pound wooden and fiberglass walleye in Port Clinton, Ohio.
Escanaba, a large city in Michigan’s remote Upper Peninsula region, is expecting a crowd for its second annual Pasty Drop. Think midnight in Times Square, but instead of a ball, people will gather to watch the lowering of a 12-foot lighted replica of a meat-and-potato-filled pastry.
“When the pasty is up in the air and it’s all lit up, and it’s so high you can see it from almost anywhere downtown and other parts of Escanaba, it does attract a lot of people,” Ed Legault, the executive director of Escanaba’s Downtown Development Authority, told the Upper Michigan Source. He noted that fireworks will also be included in the celebration and that next year’s all-day New Year’s Eve Pasty party is already in the works.
2014 New Year's Eve in NYC's Times Square - slideshow