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New Year's eve ball drop tradition started in New York in 1907

Mary Altaffer / AP

Landmark Signs workers install 288 sparkling new Waterford Crystal triangles featuring this year's "Let There Be Friendship" design on the Times Square New Year's Eve Ball, Dec. 27, 2011 in New York. The crystals, designed and crafted by Waterford artisans, feature a pattern that represents friends holding hands around the world.

When I was a a college student, I fought the crowds in Times Square to watch the ball drop. Trust me, once was enough.

AP reports:   The ball drop tradition dates back only to the early 1900s, when New York Times owner Alfred Ochs, whose offices were in Times Square, convinced the city to let him throw a grand party. The first 400-pound iron and wood orb featured 100 bulbs and was lowered down a flagpole. Now it’s an 11,875-pound, 12-foot geodesic globe encrusted with 2,688 Waterford crystals.

Roughly a million people flock to see that Times Square ball in person, and millions more tune in around the world. There’s a shared quality to the scenes of fireworks, noisemakers, and partygoers in public squares and crowded bars that flash across TV screens as time zone after time zone counts down.

Related: history of the New York Times Square ball.

New crystals have been added to the New Year's Eve ball ahead of the 2012 countdown. Msnbc.com's Richard Lui reports.