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Times Square to Go Dark for Earth Hour

By Mathew Katz | March 27, 2014 9:22am
 Times Square is seen in darkness as part of Earth Hour on March 31, 2012.
Times Square is seen in darkness as part of Earth Hour on March 31, 2012.
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John Lamparski/Getty Images

MIDTOWN — For one hour, the city's brightest lights will go dark.

From 8:30-9:30 p.m. on Saturday, the Great White Way will plunge into darkness as part of Earth Hour, an annual event that turns off lights at landmarks across the globe to raise awareness of energy use and conservation.

For the first time, the iconic New Year's Eve ball in Times Square will go dark in support of the efforts, organized by the World Wildlife Fund.

Switching off the ball means bringing in a specialist, according to Jeffrey Straus, president of Countdown Entertainment, which operates the ball.

"It's $800 to bring in the ball programmer to turn it off and turn it back on," Straus said. 

Along with several other Times Square buildings, Jamestown's One Times Square will shut down its massive electronic ads for the fifth year in a row, as part of the company's goal of reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. Advertisers pay about $23 million a year for billboards on the building. 

In 2008, the Times Square ball was outfitted with energy-efficient LED bulbs, Straus said.

"We all need light, but we have to remind ourselves that technology has a cost to it, so we've got to be efficient and green," Straus said. "These companies all pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a month, but they all think it's important to acknowledge the importance of the environment."