By Cyd Lass
Staff Intern 

From bombs to ball drops

The history of the iconic New Year’s Eve celebration


December 30, 2017

The iconic ball drop in Times Square turns 110 years old Sunday.

According to, the earliest celebrations for the New Year mark back to 1904 when New Yorkers brought in the new year with a literal bang as they allowed one fiery blast above One Time Square, newly owned by New York Times, causing falling ashes. These celebrations prompted the police department to then ban explosives.

The iconic ball drop didn’t take place until 1907, when Adolph S. Ochs, owner of the Times, was on a desperate search for new entertainment for his New Year’s Eve party. Now finding his tradition of explosives and fireworks having been banned, he was at a loss for what to do for the biggest night of the year, according to

Before his celebration, residents of lower Manhattan had rung in the new year with counts of the bells from Trinity Church. Not wanting to lose the crowds he had drawn for the past three years, Ochs knew he needed a new spectacle to lure the masses to Time Square.

New York Times chief then found the inspiration he had been looking for at the Western Union building downtown, where a metal three-and-a-half foot diameter ball was dropped every weekday at noon.

Ochs put his own spin on the famous ‘time ball,’ to usher in his beloved crowds of people. December 31, 1907, New York residents looked out from restaurants, carriages, and theaters to look up at the ball; a dazzling orb made up of wood and iron, lit up with 100 electric light bulbs, according to

The ball itself has been through numerous makeovers, now on its seventh design. It was converted to iron in 1920 and aluminum in 1954. During 1980s, the ball was dressed up as an apple for the ‘I love New York’ advertising campaign. The ball became more attractive in 1995, when the ball was decorated with over 10,000 rhinestones. For dawn of the millennium, the largest ball in the world was crafted with crystal, and in 2007 added LED lights to give a different look of multi colored lights giving the idealization of a kaleidoscope, according to

To this day, the tradition still goes strong.

Now not only in New York, there’s celebrations in Los Angeles, London and more. Some of the most common traditions from around the globe are fireworks shows, seen in London, New Zealand, Australia and more. Other celebrations seem to be presidential speeches, church bells ringing, grape eating and other interpretations of the ball drop.

According to Associated Press, this year, in places such as Los Angeles and New York, security has been tightened. In Las Vegas, an unknown number of police officers and National Guard members will be on duty as tens of thousands of people gather to ring in 2018 on the Las Vegas Boulevard, just three months after one of the most famous roadways became associated with one of the deadliest mass shootings in modern U.S. history.

The Las Vegas Metropolitan police department will have every officer working on Sunday, while the Nevada National Guard is activating about 350 soldiers and airmen after lawmakers approved tripling the states funding for the event’s security members. The federal government will also be sending in dozens of personnel to assist with intelligence and other efforts.

London also plans to buff up its police presence, and even closed down some roads for their New Year celebration after a year that had been marked by multiple terrorist attacks. The metropolitan police department informs that there is no specific threat to the city’s master celebration which focuses on the fireworks over the River Thames, which the public says should be vigilant.

According to the AP, recent deadly attacks in New York also have the city upping their security for one of the most beloved New Year celebrations of the world. This celebration is capping off a year that saw a large number of deadly attacks, including a vehicle rampage that took place in the exact spot where revelers will ring in the New Year.

In addition to its usual army of snipers, bag-inspecting officers and metal detectors, the department this year is relying on help from a corps of “vapor-wake” dogs that are trained to sniff out trace amounts of particles from someone that may be carrying a bomb.

All 125 parking garages of Times Square will also be closed off prior to the celebration to prevent the possibility of someone carrying in a car bomb.

More advances in protection have been made, including security at the dozen high-rise hotels in the area with the aim to prevent something like what had happened in October — when a man shooting from his casino hotel window, had injured dozens at an outdoor concert below, only killing himself – from happening.

Officers will also be out on Coney Island, where live music and fireworks is expected to draw large crowds.

Those watching Times Square’s event this year have the pleasure of seeing performances by Andy Grammer, Nick Jonas, and Mariah Carey.


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