Up until yesterday, most people, whether New Yorkers, tourists, or television viewers, would have never had a chance to see a Times Square New Year’s Eve ball up close (though we had a rare chance atop One Times Square at one point). But now, the original Centennial ball from the 2007 countdown can be viewed and touched up close and personal at Ripley’s Believe it or Not on 42nd Street in Times Square.
Yesterday’s announcement, timed with Groundhog Day, also featured an appearance by Staten Island Chuck (aka Charlotte, the official Groundhog of the Staten Island Zoo), who had predicted an early spring just a few hours earlier.
The New Year’s Eve ball drop tradition began in 1907 atop the New York Times building (now One Times Square), with a 700 pound iron and wood ball fixed with 100 25-watt bulbs. The New York Times building opened in 1904 and celebrated the New Year with fireworks until 1907.
Waterford Crystal Podium
Accompanying the Centennial ball at Ripley’s Believe it or Not is the Waterford crystal podium, used from 2002 to 2014, gracing the hands of celebrities like Muhammad Ali, Lady Gaga, Christopher Reeve, Colin Powell, and the Clintons who all signaled the descent for the 60 second countdown from it. Guests can press the podium in the display room and signal their own countdown. There is also a case of Waterford crystals from eighteen different countdowns – as the actual crystal design on the ball changes yearly – displayed as a set for the first time.
Stacy Shuster, director of marketing and sales at Ripley’s New York, shared some additional fun facts about the Centennial ball. There are 672 Waterford crystal triangles on the ball, with 9,576 Philips Luxeon LED lights that create a palette of more than 16 million colors and billions of colors. Yet, the ball only uses the same amount of electricity as ten toasters.
The appearance of Staten Island Chuck was a pun on the movie Groundhog Day, as the new Centennial ball installation will enable visitors to experience New Year’s Eve 365 days a year. Not surprisingly, Ed Burke, the Staten Island Deputy Borough President, famous for his puns, was on hand. He announced “Believe it or not, I’m from Staten Island. We don’t always get invited to the ball!”
Ripley’s New York is open 365 days a year and the Centennial ball is viewable from today on.