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Here was the scene about 12 hours ago in Times Square:

This year’s New Year’s Eve Ball was brand new, and it’ll be on display year-round. Twice the size of its predecessor, the ball is actually a twelve-foot geodesic sphere, and it weighs 11,875 pounds.It is covered
in 2,668 crystals designed by Waterford. Of these, 1,728 crystals bear a new design, called “Let There Be Joy,” that depicts an an angel welcoming the new year with uplifited arms. The remaining 960 triangles bear last year’s “Let There Be
Light” design, which features a starburst. The sphere is
powered by 32,256 LEDS, which can combine to create more than 16
million colors and billions of patterns.

newyears_ball_2009.JPGThe tradition of dropping a ball in Times Square to mark the beginning of the new year began in 1907, when a ball made of iron and wood and covered with 100 25-watt bulbs was lowered from a flagpole at the top of One Times Square. It had been built by an immigrant named Jacob Starr, and his sign-making company, Artkraft Strauss, would be responsible for the lowering of the ball each year for years to come. The ball has been lowered every year, with the exception of 1942 and 1943, when the policy of dimming the city’s lights during wartime forced the cancellation of the event.

A more detailed account of the history of the New Year’s Eve Ball and the design of this year’s model can be found at http://www.timessquarenyc.org/nye/nye_ball.html.