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The Man Behind the Crystal Ball

Five. Four. Three. Two. One. Happy New Year! Every year over 1,000,000 people gather in New York City’s Time Square to watch the annual dropping of the New Year’s Eve Ball. It is estimated that 1 billion people around the world watch event, making it global tradition of welcoming in the New Year.

The ball is made out of 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles that are capable of displaying a palette of more than 16 million different colors. Weighing in at 11,875 pounds and 12 feet in diameter, the ball has been displayed and dropped from One Times Square since 1907.

Since 1988, master sign hanger and rigger Tony Calvano has been the head electrician of the New Year’s Eve Ball. His company Landmark Signs is responsible for 75 percent of the lighting in Times Square and Broadway. In an exclusive Scroll interview, Calvano said that preparation of the ball starts around December 8 and his crew is busy until the minute that the ball drops. Since New York is under high security, no one except 6 Landmark technicians, 3 pyrotechnic personnel, 2 firemen and 2 policemen are allowed into One Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

In order to make sure that the new year is not celebrated a second too early or too late, the Landmark Crew is in constant communication with the National Time Clock located in Nevada. This information also ensures the accuracy of the various LED countdown signs located around Times Square.

When asked about New Year’s Eve tradition, Calvano said, “It is not really a holiday for me. I go to work.” Calvano finds Times Square exciting, but nothing is more satisfying than knowing that everything is going according to plan.