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New Year's Eve Ball Makes Times Square Test Runs

By Ben Fractenberg | December 30, 2011 8:19pm

MIDTOWN — It was a test drive for the biggest show on earth.

The famed Times Square New Year's Eve ball made a number of test runs Friday afternoon in order to prepare for the big night Saturday.

The geodesic sphere covered with 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles sparkled multiple colors as it took a two minute journey toward the sky above One Times Square at 42nd Street and Broadway.

"This is a 107-year-old tradition. We all grow up with our families watching that ball," said Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, the event organizers. "And at midnight people from around the world — a million people here in Times Square; one hundred million Americans; over a billion people around the world — will count down the seconds to the New Year as we have done here in New York City since 1907. That's what's great."

The ball will ascend a 130-foot pole at 6 p.m. Saturday, where it will wait for just before midnight, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg presses the button starting the 60-second countdown led by pop star Lady Gaga.

The ball is illuminated by 32,256 LEDs, which are more energy efficient than regular light bulbs.

"The LED bulbs are saving a lot of energy. They only use about 20 percent of the energy that the old fashioned incandescents do," said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. "The other thing is that they last almost forever. These bulbs are gonna last between 20 to 25 years."

Straus said he and other event organizers were looking forward to the entertainers and were still guessing what Lady Gaga will be wearing.

But, he added, that's not the most important part of the evening.

"The biggest star of the show is the New Year's Eve Ball... It's not the entertainers. It's not the comedians. It's not that. It's to be together at this global community to count down, and that's the most important part of the night."