Times Square Dress Rehearsal

The nation's most famous ball is ready for the fall of 2000

It looked like New Year’s Eve came early in Times Square. A dress rehearsal took place in the Square to make sure everything is in place for the real party at the end of the month. This drill looked realistic, with fireworks and confetti thrown in for the practice performance.

The most famous New Year’s Eve ball was the center of the preview celebration. High atop Times Square, electricians tested the New Year’s Eve ball by sending it up and down. The ball moved just fine but needed a bit of a tune up. A few burned-out bulbs were replaced. The ball uses 144 strobe lights and 180 Halogen lamps.

It took about 225 workers to help pull off the rehearsal in Times Square. They wanted to make the run through as authentic as possible and 75 people were used just to throw confetti. Thirty other workers operated lights, 15 sent up fireworks and 40 were needed to clean up the mess left behind.

This year’s celebration is going to be more elaborate than in the past; after all it is the year 2000.

Additions this year include the sound system, a 16-foot-tall Father Time puppet that will drift above the crowd, expanded fireworks, giant television screens and the world’s most powerful searchlight.

Mayor Giuliani will be flipping the ceremonial switch to set the giant ball in motion, but he’ll have a little help. Sang Lan, the Chinese gymnast whose spinal injury during the Goodwill Games last summer broke hearts around town, will help the Mayor with the honors. Workers tested a hydraulic lift that will hoist the paralyzed teenager to the stage.

New Yorkers will be saying good-bye to the old Times Square ball this year. Next year a new ball will take over the duties, Waterford Crystal is designing it.

While quite a few New Yorkers stopped their Christmas shopping to see what was happening the crowd was nothing compared to the real crowd expected on December 31. 500,000 people are expected to brave the winter temperatures to attend the historic party. Another one Billion will watch the events unfold on television from the warmth of their living rooms.

Source: New York Daily News

DATE: 12/2/99

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