Times Square Alliance and Countdown Entertainment, the co-organizers of New Year's Eve in Times Square unveiled a new Times Square New Year's Eve Ball at a press conference last month at Hudson Scenic Studio in Yonkers, New York.
The 12' geodesic sphere is twice the size of the previous versions and weighs a whopping 11,875lbs. The ball is covered in 2,668 Waterford Crystal triangles, ranging size from 4¾" to 5¾" per side, bolted to and powered by 672 LED modules attached to the aluminum frame and comprising 32,256 Philips Lumileds Luxeon Rebel RGB plus white LEDs. The result is an output of a palette of more than 16 million colors and billions of patterns for a kaleidoscope effect when it drops Thursday night from atop One Times Square.
While this year's Ball represents more than three times the number of LEDs used last year, it is actually 10-20% more energy efficient, consuming only the same amount of energy per hour as it would take to operate two traditional home ovens. Two-hundred eighty-eight of the Waterford Crystal triangles are emblazoned with the new Let There Be Courage design of a ribbon medal defining the triumph of courage over adversity; 1,440 crystal triangles feature last year's Let There Be Joy design of an angel with arms uplifted welcoming the New Year. The remaining 960 triangles are the original Let There Be Light design of a stylized radiating sunburst.
Focus Lighting created a unique lighting design for the ball that requires more than 3,500 lighting cues to orchestrate the moving patterns, making the sparkle visible whether viewed from 5' away or 500' from the streets. "We tried to create a beacon of light in the sky over Times Square," says Paul Gregory, principal lighting designer for Focus Lighting.
Lighting Science Group designed, developed, and produced the lighting system for the new ball to seamlessly integrate the Waterford Crystal with the Philips Luxeon Rebel LEDs. Hudson Scenic Studio designed, developed, and produced the structural framework, including the hoisting system for raising and lowering the ball on the new 141' mast. E:Cue Lighting Control provided the lighting control system, and Lapp Group provided the power and control cabling for the Ball.
This is only the seventh version of a new ball in 101 years, the first made of iron and wood, weighing 700lbs, and covered with 100 light bulbs. This new version will become a year-round attraction above Times Square in full public view January through December. "For one hundred years, the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball has attracted millions of revelers to Times Square on December 31 to celebrate the beginning of the New Year" says Jeff Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment and co-organizer of Times Square New Year's Eve. "The new Times Square New Year's Eve Ball will be a bright sparkling jewel atop One Times Square entertaining New Yorkers and tourists from around the world not only on December 31, but throughout the year."
Also new this year, Philips has converted the companion Times Square Ball Numerals (2-0-1-0) to all-LED technology. The 545 custom-designed Philips scalloped LED flood bulbs lighting the Times Square Ball Numerals use just 9W each, compared to the 40W consumed by the incandescent and halogen bulbs previously used, representing a 78% energy savings.
"Following our landmark upgrade of the Times Square Ball to LED technology over the past two years, we are very excited to deliver yet another innovative LED solution that helps to elevate the impact and sustainability of the Times Square Ball through the use of our powerful new LED flood bulbs in the Numerals," said Ed Crawford, CEO, Philips Lighting North America. "Global icons like the Times Square Ball are not the only applications that can enjoy the benefits of LED technology. In addition to offering a wide range of professional LED solutions, we are delighted to offer a broad line of LED retrofit bulbs to consumers for the first time, enabling everyone to enhance their life with light through high performance, energy efficient and long life LED lighting."