NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — With New Year’s Eve just four days away, preparations are underway in Times Square for the live drop of the celebration’s famed ball.
The performance stages are being built and crews are getting the ball ready.
“We’re actually replacing all the triangles this year, 2,688 of them, with a new pattern called the gift of imagination,” said Jeffrey Straus, executive producer of Times Square New Year’s Eve, told WCBS 880’s Peter Haskell.
This year, a new version of the free Times Square New Year’s Eve app will show the broadcast of the celebration and let users customize to time zones.
“If you’re watching the network show at home, you’re only seeing their filter of what’s going on in Times Square,” Straus said. “If you watch on a mobile device, on the ball app or on your computer at home, you actually see a variety of all the entertainment.”
Straus said about 469,000 people in 184 countries signed up for the app over the past four years, but he expects a significant bump in signups with the retooled app and its greater emphasis on interaction, including tweets between users and someone acting as the voice of the ball.
The greater emphasis on electronics is a natural progression for the Times Square ball, Straus said. Fireworks at Times Square New Year’s Eve celebrations beginning around 1904 dropped burning embers on revelers, leading the gathering’s organizers to embrace electricity in 1907 in the form of a lighted ball, he said.
Now, the nearly 6-ton ball has grown in diameter to 12 feet and contains more than 32,000 light bulbs. Its 70-foot drop lasts a minute, famously counted out loud.
Straus said more people will be counting thanks to the app, wherever they are. The app is available with the latest Android phones and iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. To download it, click here.
Meanwhile those who do make the trek into Times Square will be met with plenty of security to make sure the ball drop goes off without a hitch.
NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said police officers and other department personnel will be out in Times Square on the big night checking bags in the area.
Kelly said there will be police cars positioned to block streets that are not considered entry points to the area. Entry points will be located along 6th and 8th avenues, Kelly said.
New Year’s Eve revelers can also count on the NYPD to keep a look out overhead as there will be police helicopters in the air on Dec. 31.
And outside of Times Square, Kelly reminded residents not to shoot off guns in celebration on New Year’s Eve, warning that those who do will be arrested.
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