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For Find Out Friday Week 21- The Story Behind the New Year’s Eve Ball Drop and the Reasons We Make Resolutions That Night


What do you know? It is Find Out Friday once again. They are starting to come faster and faster each week. Since our last lesson had to do with Christmas it is only right that I conclude the holiday trinity with New Year’s Eve.

I felt compelled to learn more specifics about the main event here a.k.a. the ball drop in the heart of Times Square, New York City, as well as the reason so many strive to make or keep resolutions for the upcoming year.

For starters New Year’s Day became an official Federal holiday way back in June 1870. That means all banks; government offices, schools, and the like were to be closed in celebration. It began first in Washington, D.C. eventually spreading throughout the land. Nowadays this is practically one of the only days anything is really shut down especially since lunatics still want to shop on Thanksgiving ensuring that some will have to work that holiday.

With the holiday clearly established, and people off the next day, New Year’s Eve was the focus. The notorious ball drop began in what was formerly known as Longacre Square. This is the area now known as Times Square. In an added bonus I discovered Times Square was so named because The New York Times, my beloved paper of choice, moved its headquarters there in 1904 to a tower in the heart of the square. In honor of that move, the area around the building became officially called Times Square. I never knew that or thought to look into it. It was a fact I took for granted but I love a hidden story within a story.

Now that Times Square had arrived so did the spectacle. For about two years after its arrival, The Times used pyrotechnics to set fireworks off at the stroke of midnight. However, they needed a less flammable method of doing so. That is where the beloved ball shows up. Originally it was made of iron and wood that had one hundred twenty-five watt bulbs on it, the year was 1907.

According to the source itself:

“Thomas P. Ward, a New York Times electrician, was the man in charge of the ball drop that night. He remained in charge each year until 1957. He saw to it that the ball came down during the dark years of World War I and the dry years of Prohibition; during the Jazz Age and the Depression; through the advent of radio and television, which brought the event into the nation’s living rooms.

Only twice in Mr. Ward’s long tenure did The Times forgo the ceremony: the new year of 1942-43, when it was perilously unclear who would win the Second World War; and the new year of 1943-44, when victory appeared possible but not yet imminent.”

As for the resolutions part of this holiday’s traditions, it appears that the Babylonians beat us to the practice beginning over four thousand years ago. However their New Year celebrations occurred in March when the crops for the new season were planted. That makes sense to me. It was a physical and spiritual rebirth.

I don’t make resolutions just because it’s a new year and I have long ago given up forcing myself to be healthy just because the day on the calendar has changed. I don’t operate well under those circumstances. As my readers know I prefer to set out goals, hopes, and dreams in the form of my annual blog to do list (http://bit.ly/29H6zRG) around the time of my blog’s anniversary (http://bit.ly/2iQvabp) on March 2nd. This year will be no different.

To date I have only spent one New Year’s Eve in New York City and that was the one right after my twenty-first birthday. That was a good year. After turning twenty-one I went on a celebrating spree that lasted damn near six months. I heard many times that eventually being carded and being legal will get old. I am here to tell you it certainly did not.

Although I haven’t been carded in ages I still get a thrill out of being legal enough to do damn near anything I want, whenever I want. To this day it still brings a smile to my face thinking of my friends and I sitting in my dorm room counting down until the moment midnight stroke and popping a bottle of champagne to celebrate. My phone rang off the hook with birthday wishes for hours that night. I was literally the last of everyone my age to turn twenty-one that year, my December birthday was torturing me. So I made sure I went in with a bang. With a reason like that to party the only resolution I needed was to keep the bubbly flowing and that New Year’s Eve at Mo’s certainly did the trick.

While I have not stood in that pit of terror to see the ball drop in person I have gone to town on New Year’s Day and found left over confetti and the ball in its new lowered position. Despite the chaos of the night before it was very serene and peaceful. It felt exactly how the beginning of a new year of life should begin.

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