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Times Square's crystal ball gets gleaming new skin

Times Square Crystal Ball Gets a Makeover

NEW YORK (AP) -- Electricians working atop a New York City skyscraper on 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 with new pieces of glass.

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.

One crystal panel stands out from the rest. It was crafted from a drawing submitted by Coraliz Martinez, who was treated for bone cancer at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., in 2011.

The girl's colored-pencil drawing featured a single rose bloom, which Waterford's master sculptor, Fred Curtis, traced into the glass and cut with a diamond wheel.

"I wanted to get as close to her design as possible," he said.

Coraliz, who lives in Alabama, is now cancer-free, the hospital said.

It takes Waterford craftsmen about a year to make the crystals used in the ball, Curtis said.

Bolting them onto the ball's metal frame takes two weeks. That task is carefully performed by a crew from Landmark Signs and Electric, a company that also maintains the dazzling electronic billboards in Times Square.

Two employees, Nick Bonavita and Nick Russomanno, screwed in the final panels as photographers watched Friday.

Their hands were red from the cold. The crystal wedges, fitted in their metal frames, looked heavy. But Bonavita, who has worked on the ball every year since 2009, said they haven't dropped one yet.

"We have a perfect record so far," he said.

Join the discussion

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rickander515 December 27 2013 at 6:40 PM


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1 reply
Kate rickander515 December 27 2013 at 9:12 PM

It definitely made me cry, but she did beat it.

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mfrank796 December 28 2013 at 1:13 AM

I think that what they have done to the ball this year by a girl's drawing, especially a girl who had suffered for so long who is now cancer free was a wonderful thing to do, and I sincerly hope that that ball this year will be terriffic. I do believe that the Kaleidoscopic effect will be awsome. I do hope that the people working on this although they haven't yet, but I hope in the end of the process, that none of the crystals get broken and everything comes into play by New Years Eve. I am really looking forward to seeing the new look of the 2013-2014 ball...Lots of luck.

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John December 28 2013 at 1:18 AM

Ok new crystals every year thats cool what do they do with the old ones? They should raffle off the 2688 old ones and donate the proceeds to help kids with cancer get the much needed hospital treatments.

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O.B. Jr. December 28 2013 at 1:59 AM


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Kate December 27 2013 at 9:05 PM

Wow, I'm a New Yorker and never knew any of that. I haven't lived in the city for many years, but I still can't believe I didn't know that it's Waterford.

I was really touched that they chose a design from a cancer patient. I support St. Jude's all year round.

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jemanu6821 December 27 2013 at 11:09 PM

I want to extend my congratulations to Mr. Jeff Strauus who has done a tremendous job for many years, and keeps on bettering every year something that is already great.
Thanks Jeff. Happy New year to you

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justme December 28 2013 at 10:38 AM

Getting a massive group of strangers together in one place.
Getting a massive group of family and friends together.
Getting them all to be kind, happy and good.
Getting them all to cheer at the same time.
Getting them all to leave in an orderly manner safely.
Priceless.... Getting our elected leaders to behave like this a miracle!!!!!
Happy and Healthy New Year Everyone.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Chuck Lauby December 28 2013 at 11:14 AM

Not sure what happens to all the crystals that are replaced each year, but they should be sold with the profits going to St Judes

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1 reply
llebmit Chuck Lauby December 28 2013 at 11:55 AM

I didn't read your post until I had posted mine. Sorry, but great minds think alike!

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Mary Beth December 27 2013 at 7:06 PM

Duh never mind just reread the article.

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llebmit December 28 2013 at 11:53 AM

Why not auction off the old panels and give the money to St Jude's or someother charity?

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