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SUNDAY, 20 APR 2014
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Not in New York? App lets you enjoy from afar
A person dressed as Spider-Man throws confetti during the 2014 New Year's Eve Confetti Test at Hard Rock Cafe, Times Square on December 29, 2013 in New York City.   (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images/AFP)
A person dressed as Spider-Man throws confetti during the 2014 New Year's Eve Confetti Test at Hard Rock Cafe, Times Square on December 29, 2013 in New York City. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images/AFP)
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TORONTO: Revelers who can’t make it to New York’s Times Square to celebrate New Year’s Eve can download an app to make sure they see the ball drop.

More than 1 million people from around the world flock to the famous area in midtown Manhattan, which hosts one of the world’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Another billion across the globe tune in on their televisions.

“It’s one moment where 100 million Americans are all doing the same thing at the same time. They’re all counting down to the same time thing,” said Jeff Straus, president of New York City-based Countdown Entertainment, which organizes the annual event.

This year, U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be taking center stage in Times Square to usher in 2014 by pressing the button to lower the iconic countdown ball, organizers said Sunday.

Sotomayor was chosen for her achievements and rise from humble beginnings in the Bronx to become the first Hispanic appointed to the country’s highest court, organizers said. She follows in the footsteps of pop star Lady Gaga, boxing great Muhammad Ali and Bill and Hillary Clinton, all of whom have had the honor of starting the ball drop.

But with the free Times Square Ball app for iPhone and Android, people neither there nor near a television can tune in to the festivities from their smartphones. The app features a live six-hour webcast that will be available on New Year’s Eve, with behind-the-scenes interviews, musical performances, countdowns and, of course, the fall of the Times Square Ball.

“We created the app because there’s a whole other audience that can’t be near their televisions or are overseas, but still want to be part of it and count down those final seconds with us,” Straus said.

The app will include tweets from the Times Square Ball, which will be taking to Twitter to send out news and photos of the event from its perch high above the crowds.

The app also has a countdown that can be configured to different time zones and is available worldwide.

“The ball’s history goes back to 1907 when we had the first ball drop. It was basically a 1.5-meter ball of iron and wood with 100 125-watt light bulbs in it, which was the latest in lighting technology,” Straus said.

It has been redesigned seven times since then. Over the years, computer controls and other features like strobe lights have been added.

The ball, which has been dropped every year since 1907 except for 1942 and 1943, is now over 3.6 meters in diameter and weighs nearly 6 tons, according to the Times Square Alliance, white works to improve and promote the area.

Electricians working atop a New York City skyscraper Friday installed the last of the 2,688 crystal triangles that give the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball its shimmer, including a panel dreamt up by a 12-year-old former cancer patient.

Each year, the intricate Waterford crystals that make up the skin of the huge orb are replaced.

This year’s design features a kaleidoscopic pattern that will refract light in a splash of 16 million colors as the ball drops down a flagpole at the stroke of midnight. The ball is lit from within by 32,256 powerful diodes.

It takes Waterford craftsmen about a year to make the crystals used in the ball. Bolting them onto the ball’s metal frame takes two weeks.

For people who want to join in with the New Year’s Eve fireworks in London, they can download the free London New Year’s Eve fireworks app for iPhone and Android created by the U.K.-based company Vodafone.

The app overlays the fireworks on display on the banks of the River Thames onto the smartphone camera.

It will be released on Dec. 30 at midnight.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 31, 2013, on page 13.
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