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A century of ringing in the new

by Laura Gjovaag NEW YORK — Crowds will pack Times Square tonight to watch the ball drop, ringing in 2016. The tradition of celebrating New Year’s Eve in Times Square started in 1904 as part of the official opening of the new headquarters of The New York Times. The newspaper’s owner, Adolph Ochs spared no expense, holding an all-day party that culminated in a fireworks display that night set off from the base of his new office tower. By 1907, Ochs arranged to have a large, illuminated 700-pound iron and wood ball lowered from the tower flagpole to replace the fireworks, banned by the city due to fire danger. For another century, the tradition has endured, with new events added to the schedule. Starting on Sunday, the New Year’s Eve Ball, which now is displayed year-round on top of the building, received a new set of crystal triangles. Monday the organizers held “Good Riddance Day,” in which visitors and New Yorkers wrote down items they wanted to see the last of in 2015. The writings were then shredded. On Tuesday the annual confetti test was conducted at the Broadway Plaza. Confetti was tossed from the marquee to make sure it fell cleanly and evenly. Yesterday the ball received a lighting check and test and hundreds of balloons were inflated for distribution to the crowds tonight. Those who want to attend the celebration in Times Square on New Year’s need to plan to be there early and stay for a long time. The event is free and open to the public, but spots open on a first-come, first served basis.

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Photo by Countdown Entertainment

Fireworks and celebrations bring in the new year in Times Square 2015.

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Photo by Ian Hardy/Countdown Entertainment

People from the Times Square Alliance, Countdown Entertainment and Planet Fitness throw handfuls of confetti from the Hard Rock Cafe marquee as part of the annual confetti test on Tuesday.

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Photo by Amy Hart/Times Square Alliance

People celebrate in Times Square as 2015 starts.

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Photo by Ian Hardy/Countdown Entertainment

The newest portion of the year 2016 is delivered for installation on top of One Times Square.

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Photo by Ian Hardy/Countdown Entertainment

This year’s new Waterford Crystal triangles on the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball feature a starburst. The crystals, bearing the theme are a design calls “Gift of Wonder,” are custom-designed and built to withstand the stresses of high winds, precipitation and temperature fluctuation that exist 470 feet above Times Square.

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Photo by Ian Hardy/Countdown Entertainment

This year the organizers of Times Square New Year’s Eve unveiled a “wishing wall” to allow visitors from around the world to be part of the celebration by writing their wishes on the actual confetti that will be released at midnight.

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