Times Square is the site of the annual New Year's Eve ball drop. On December 31, 1907, a ball signifying New Year's Day was first dropped at Times Square, and the Square has held the main New Year's celebration in New York City ever since. On that night, hundreds of thousands of people congregate to watch the Waterford Crystal ball being lowered on a pole atop the building (though not to the street, as is a common misconception), marking the new year.
New York is famous for it's lavish New Year's parties, and 2012 will be no different, with events including Dick Clark's Rockin New Years Eve, The Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Big Apple Circus, Jersey Boys, Deadmau5 at Pier 36, New York Philharmonic - New Years Eve Bernstein and Gershwin at Avery Fisher Hall, Avicci at Pier 94 and many more.
It replaced a lavish fireworks display from the top of the building that was held from 1904 to 1906, only to be outlawed by city officials. Beginning in 1908, and for more than eighty years thereafter, Times Square sign maker Artkraft Strauss was responsible for the ball-lowering. During World War II, a minute of silence, followed by a recording of church bells pealing, replaced the ball drop because of wartime blackout restrictions. Today, Countdown Entertainment and One Times Square handle the New Year's Eve event in conjunction with the Times Square Alliance.
A new energy-efficient LED ball, celebrating the centennial of the ball drop, debuted for the arrival of 2008. The 2008/2009-ball, which was dropped on New Year's Eve (Wednesday, December 31, 2008) for the arrival of 2009, is larger and has become a permanent installation as a year-round attraction, being used for celebrations such as Valentine's Day and Halloween. On average, about 1 million revelers crowd Times Square for the New Year's Eve celebrations. However, for the millennium celebration on December 31, 1999, published reports stated approximately two million people overflowed Times Square, flowing from 6th Avenue to 8th Avenue and all the way back on Broadway and Seventh Avenues to 59th Street, making it the largest gathering in Times Square since August 1945 during celebrations marking the end of World War II.