or, what goes up must come down.
Revelers first gathered in Time Square on New Year’s Eve in 1904 thanks to Adolph Ochs, owner of The New York Times. To commemorate the paper’s new and impressive Times Tower headquartered on 7th Avenue, Broadway, and 42nd Street, Ochs threw a no-expenses-spared bash complete with a fireworks display.
The party was a smash success, and it lured people away from the wholesome preoccupation of listening to church bells at midnight. The festivities were further enhanced by the fact that he had successfully convinced New York’s Mayor George McClellan to rename the area Times Square.
The previous year, Ochs had set the skies above Manhattan ablaze with a midnight fireworks show launched from the roof of his newspaper’s 25-story headquarters. The pyrotechnics had been a hit with the 200,000 revelers who filled the junction around Broadway and 42nd Street but the hot ash that rained down upon them concerned New York City officials so much that they banned the fireworks from ushering in 1908.
This forced the New York Times to find a new celebratory way to ring in the new year during its annual New Year’s jamboree. Ochs, inspired by the Western Union Telegraph’s time ball, arranged for an illuminated seven-hundred-pound iron and wood ball to be lowered from the flagpole of the Times Tower.
The Ball has been lowered every year since 1907, with the exceptions of 1942 and 1943, when the ceremony was suspended due to the wartime “dimout” of lights in New York City.
The notion of a ball “dropping” to signal the passage of time dates back long before New Year’s Eve was ever celebrated in The Big Apple. The first “time balls” were built in England, in the Portsmouth harbor in 1829 and at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich in 1833.
These devices were large enough and high enough to be seen from the harbor or port. A ball would drop at one o’clock every afternoon, allowing the captains of nearby ships to precisely set their chronometers, an apparatus that resembled an over-sized pocket watch, carefully gimballed in a wooden box to keep it level as rough seas rose and fell.
On land, time balls found an enthusiastic audience popping up on both coasts and even in landlocked cities like Kansas City, Missouri; Akron, Ohio; and Crete, Nebraska.
Thanks to satellite technology, a worldwide audience estimated at over one billion people watch the sparkling orb be lowered from a flagpole at the top of One Times Square. But not everyone has their eyes focused on Times Square…
Here in the Coal Region, and central Pennsylvania, we have some unique “drops” of our own that embrace some of our favorite foods and snacks to usher in the New Year! Get ready to say hello to 2020 and usher in January 1st the “pee-ay” way!
Yuengling Bottle Drop
New Year’s Eve in Pottsville is marked by the raising of the Yuengling© beer bottle to the top of the flagpole at Garfield Square. Ring in the New Year with a toast to the oldest brewery in America.
Lebanon Bologna Drop
It wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve in central Pennsylvania without a famous Pennsylvania Dutch treat descending from the sky. Join the excitement in Lebanon as a 12-pound bologna will drop, attached to a custom-made disco ball as crowds count down the seconds til the stroke of midnight.
Marshmallow Peep® Drop
Family-friendly two-day event held between 10:30 am and 5:40 pm Dec 30th and 31st. a 4-feet, 9-inches tall, 400-pound lit PEEPS® Chick that descends at 5:15 p.m. on Dec. 31 to commemorate the beginning of an exciting new year.
Hershey Kiss Drop
Hershey does not drop a kiss, it raises one! At 11:59 p.m., a 7-foot-high, 300 pound Hershey’s Kiss is gradually raised three stories at the historic Hershey Press Building and a midnight fireworks display completes a family-friendly night in beautiful downtown Hershey.