1916 postcard decorated fireplace with chair in front, says "To wish you a happy new year"

New Year’s Eve Ball Drops

Author: RoAnn Bishop

What makes millions worldwide watch a huge, lighted ball slide down a pole in New York City’s Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve? Call it tradition or pure craziness, but it’s been happening since 1907. It began in 1904 when New York Times owner Adolph Ochs decided to commemorate the opening of his newspaper’s new headquarters in Times Square with a blockbuster New Year’s Eve party. 
Until then, Trinity Church in Lower Manhattan had been “the” place in New York City to ring in the new year. But Ochs wanted the launch of his “Times Tower” to be memorable. His all-day festival with fireworks and 200,000 merrymakers achieved that goal. 

After the city banned fireworks in 1907, Ochs arranged to have a large, lighted iron-and-wood sphere lowered from the Times Tower’s flagpole at midnight to signal the beginning of 1908. The old maritime tradition of dropping “time balls” for ship captains to accurately set their chronometers inspired Ochs.

Seven different New Year’s Eve balls have helped revelers count down to the new year. Since 2008, a 12-foot wide,12,000-pound orb covered with LED lamps and Waterford Crystal panels have made the descent from atop One Times Square. 
Many towns and cities in the United States and elsewhere mimic the Times Square ball drop by dropping objects representative of their local culture, geography, or history. 

Nashville, Tennessee, drops a 15-foot-tall music note. Plymouth, Wisconsin, lowers an 80-pound cheese wedge. New Orleans uses a fleur-de-lis. In Indianapolis, Indiana, it’s an Indy race car. Atlanta, Georgia, hosts an annual Peach Drop. And Winter Haven, Florida, home of Legoland, drops a Lego brick.

North Carolina cities have their New Year’s Eve “drop” traditions. In coastal Beaufort, “Captain Shack” the pirate walks the plank and drops into Taylor’s Creek. In Cumberland County, Eastover drops a three-foot-tall ceramic flea in homage to its historical name, Flea Hill. The foothills town of Marion drops a lighted, 80-pound gold nugget as a nod to McDowell County’s gold heritage.
New Bern’s “New Year’s Eve Bear Drop” honors the city founder’s Swiss homeland, where “Bern” means “bear.”
As home to the Mount Olive Pickle Company, the town of Mount Olive drops a glowing, three-foot-long pickle. And Raleigh, the “City of Oaks,” has been lowering a giant acorn for nearly 30 years. 

gold nugget of Marion N.C.
Image of the Gold Nugget. Dropped on New Year's Eve at Downtown Marion, N.C. Images courtesy of the Blue Ridge Traveler. 


Whatever is dropped on New Year’s Eve, it’s a reason to celebrate. Happy New Year!

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