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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

December 31, 1907

Can you believe that it is the FINAL day of 2013? 24 hours from now, it will be a brand new year, filled with brand new possibilities!

And since a new year is ripe with new possibilities, I've decided to usher in a brand new look for the upcoming year. For almost three years, I've more or less kept the same logo with text floating over a gigantic scalene triangle.

This year, I've blown up the triangle. And what was left was an ethereal background filled with lots of purple, blue, and pink splotches. And, I also changed the colour and appearance of the font, which is now white and italicized. I wasn't sure how it would look until I posted it on the blog, but it actually turned out really well.

As of right now, that's the only change I plan on making for 2014, but I might tweak the background colours around a smidgen...just to make it match with the colour scheme of the logo. But I won't be worrying about that just yet. I still have a Tuesday Timeline entry to write, after all!

And, given that today is the last day of 2013, I really wanted to make this Tuesday Timeline very special. I even managed to find a way to make the Tuesday Timeline fit in with the theme of today!

Of course, before we begin this final Tuesday Timeline of 2013, we should probably take a look at how New Years' Eve went on other years of the calendar. So, let's have a look throughout history, shall we?

1600 – The British East India Company is founded

1695 Homeowners board and brick up every window in their houses in England, after a window tax is imposed

1759 – Arthur Guinness signs a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum, and begins brewing pints of Guinness

1775 – British forces repulse an attack by Continental Army General Richard Montgomery during the American Revolutionary War

1796 – Baltimore, Maryland is incorporated at a city

1831 – Gramercy Park is deeded to New York, New York

1857 – Ottawa, Ontario is selected by Queen Victoria herself as the city that would eventually become the capital of Canada

1862 – Abraham Lincoln signs the act that would bring the state of West Virginia into the Union

1878 – Karl Benz submits a patent for his two-stroke gas engine

1879 – Thomas Edison demonstrates incandescent lighting to a public display in Menlo Park, New Jersey

1909 – The Manhattan Bridge opens

1923 – The chimes of Big Ben are broadcast on radio for the first time by the BBC

1943 – Singer/songwriter John Denver (d. 1997) is born in Roswell, New Mexico

1944 – Hungary declares war on Nazi Germany during World War II

1946 – President Harry S. Truman officially proclaims the end of hostilities in World War II

1948 – Disco singer Donna Summer (d. 2012) is born in Boston, Massachusetts

1960 – The farthing coin ceases being legal tender in the United Kingdom

1967 – The Youth International Party is founded

1983 – The AT&T Bell System is broken up by the United States Government

1985 – Singer/songwriter Ricky Nelson is killed in a plane crash outside De Kalb, Texas at the age of 45

1988 – Mario Lemieux becomes the only NHL player to score a goal five different ways – even strength, shorthanded, power play, penalty shot, empty net

1993 – Transgendered teenager Brandon Teena is murdered by two men in a barn in Nebraska – the incident inspired the 1999 film, “Boys Don't Cry”

1999 – ABC launches a 24-hour long broadcast of New Years Eve celebrations all over the world in preparation for the arrival of the year 2000

2004 – The tallest skyscraper in the world – Taipei 101 – is opened (it would hold the record for nine years before the Freedom Tower in New York City broke that record in May 2013)

And, on the subject of celebrity birthdays, I certainly have a long list of them today! Happy New Years Eve birthday to Anthony Hopkins, Barry Hughes, Sarah Miles, Sir Ben Kingsley, Taylor Hackford, Neil Ross, Barbara Carrera, Diane von Furstenberg, Burton Cummings, Tim Matheson, Joe Dallesandro, Steve Rude, Bebe Neuwirth, Val Kilmer, Don Diamont, Lance Reddick, Scott Ian, Michael McDonald (the comedian, not the singer), Nicholas Sparks, Lisa Joyner, Gerry Dee, Joey McIntyre, Donald Trump Jr, Bronson Pelletier, and Gabby Douglas.

Wow. That's a lot of birthday cake to go along with the champagne corks popping at various places on New Years Eve, huh?

So, what day in history will we be looking back on today? Well, here it is, complete with the new logo scheme!

December 31, 1907!

So, we're going back exactly one hundred and six years in this edition! Quite a long time ago! And believe it or not, although this tradition began 106 years ago, it is still going on as of 2013!

Or, I guess I could say 2014 starting tomorrow!

And, it's a tradition that I believe that most of you have at least watched on television. Well, at least you have if you live in North America.

Now, how many of you remember watching the ball drop in the middle of Times Square in New York City? I imagine some of you probably took a flight to New York City to watch it in person, but for most of us, we've probably sat at home watching the ball drop in the comforts of our own living rooms while snacking on chips and dip and ginger ale, because it was the closest thing that looked like champagne that you could find.

(Oh, sorry...that's how I usually spend MY New Years Eve. Don't judge.)

The ball drop symbolizes the true moment in which everything changes. When the calendars switch from December to January, when the calendar year goes up one digit, and when we say goodbye (or good riddance for some people) to the old year, and hello to the brand new year. Throughout the whole event, the large crowd is entertained by musical artists, bands, and hosts who reflect on the year gone by.

And, as we well know, the most famous broadcast of the New Years Eve ball drop was Dick Clark for many, many years. After Dick Clark's stroke in 2004, Ryan Seacrest stepped in as the permanent host of the New Years' Eve special, although Dick Clark continued to appear as a special guest until his death in the spring of 2012.

I just know that as long as I've been alive, I always remembered the ball dropping down over Times Square as being a New Years Eve tradition. But, do you know exactly when that tradition began?

Although December 31, 1907 wasn't the first New Years' Eve celebration to be hosted in Times Square (the first ceremony actually took place four years prior, in 1903), it WAS the first celebration that implemented the famous “ball drop”, that so many of us looked forward to watching as kids (or adults, if you like). And the ball drop was implemented after the founder of the New Years' Eve celebration in New York City solely on the purpose of drawing a larger crowd to the area.

You see, prior to the inaugural ball drop in 1907, the owner of the New York Times – Adolph Ochs – wanted to do something special to celebrate the opening of the brand new offices of the newspaper on the last day of 1903, which at that time were located at One Times Square (the building in Times Square that has that larger-than-life Coca-Cola logo on it). And his idea to celebrate was with an elaborate fireworks display on the roof of the building as a way of ringing in 1904 in style. And, it seemed to work, as almost a quarter of a million people turned out to watch the display. This tradition went on for three years, but by the time 1907 rolled around, Ochs had made the decision that fireworks weren't enough. He needed something more... maybe a gigantic electric ball cascading down towards the roof of the building, perhaps?

The idea was actually suggested to Ochs by Walter F. Painer, whose occupation at the time was that of chief electrician of the New York Times building. His inspiration for his “time ball” idea came from seeing the Western Union Building using the same technology for an unrelated event. Immediately, Ochs sought assistance from Artkraft Strauss to create the ball to be used for the first ball drop.

And, just what ingredients were used for the very first ball? Well, a whole lot of wood, a whole lot of iron, and approximately one hundred incandescent light bulbs. The ball measured around five feet in diameter, and weighed close to seven hundred pounds! That's one gigantic ball!

Once the ball was completed, it was hoisted atop the flagpole by six men, attached by a rope. As well, the ball would be the necessary item needed to complete an electrical circuit that was attached to the roof of the building. Once the ball touched the roof, the connection would cause a giant five foot sign to light up, wishing everybody in New York a happy 1908!

As it so happened, the ball drop was a huge success, and in the end, it did get Ochs his wish. More and more people began to attend the ball drop every year, and long after the New York Times vacated their offices at One Times Square, the building still remained the site of the ball drop for years to come.

And, since we're on the subject of the ball drop, why not go over some trivia about the ball itself?

1 – The ball has been redesigned a total of four times since it was first brought out in 1907. In 1920, the ball was completely redone in an iron frame. In 1955, the third edition used aluminum. The fourth redesign took place in 1999 with halogen bulbs, Waterford Crystal, mirrors, and strobe lights. Currently, the ball is constructed with LED lights and crystal, and has been in use since 2008.

2 – Sometimes the ball has been redone specifically for a certain theme. In 1981, the ball was illuminated completely in red with green on top to resemble a big apple (for the city's “I Love New York” theme). In 1991, the ball was illuminated in red, white, and blue lights to salute the troops that participated in “Operation: Desert Shield”.

3 – In 2002, the crystals on the ball were engraved with the names of nations and organizations that were affected by the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

4 – In 2012, Dick Clark's name was permanently engraved on the ball to honour his memory and to preserve his commitment to the Rockin' New Years Eve party that Clark had hosted for nearly four decades.

5 – The 1988 ball drop was a rather unique one. To accommodate the leap second (that comes with the arrival of a leap year every four years), the ball drop was the only one to last sixty-one seconds.

6 - The 1995/1996 New Years' Eve ball drop was almost a complete disaster, as the ball actually got stuck for a few moments while in mid-descent!

7 – The only two years in which the ball did not drop at all were 1942 and 1943, as wartime lighting restrictions were in effect during World War II. A moment of silence at midnight was substituted instead.

8 – As you well know, New York City gets very cold during the month of December. But, do you know what the coldest temperature ever recorded was during a ball drop? It took place during the ball drop of 1917, where the temperature plummeted to a frosty 1 degree Fahrenheit (that's -17 C for you Canadians out there).

9 – In contrast, the warmest ball drop ever recorded were in the years 1965 and 1972, where the temperatures were a balmy 58 degrees Fahrenheit (14 C).

10 – It has only ever snowed seven times during the Times Square ball drop. The earliest was in 1926, the latest was in 2009.

And, as we head into another New Years' Eve celebration, we look ahead at the future, wondering what joys and wonders the year 2014 will bring us.

Only time will tell.

And, that wraps up the final Tuesday Timeline of 2013. Tomorrow will be the first blog entry of 2014, and on that day, we'll take a look at some of the news events that impacted the world throughout 2013. You won't want to miss it!

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