I spent New Year's Eve in Times Square once in my life way back in 1977 and vowed I'd never do it again. But I am seriously reconsidering my vow this year just to see the ball drop.
Why my change of heart? Because this year's ball is twice the size of previous balls and will shine brighter than ever before because it'll be lit up by over 32,000 energy-efficient LEDs, courtesy of provided by Philips Lighting. According to the Times Square District Management Association, this year's ball will consumer the same amount of energy per hour as it would take to operate two traditional home ovens.
And to top that off, the power needed to light the ball will be generated by human pedal power, courtesy of Duracell. Duracell has set up six "snowmobikes" in Times Square that are equipped with generators that route the power to a battery pack. The company is inviting visitors to pedal for a few minutes to help generate the 200 hours of 'pedal power' needed to light up the ball.
So at midnight on New Year's Eve, New York City will make a statement capturing the promise of new technology and the innovation of renewable energy through the iconic symbol that the whole world recognizes. And billions of people will be watching.
Sure it's a gimmick, not to mention a great marketing opportunity for both Philips and Duracell, a Procter & Gamble company. But I see it as potentially more than that - as the time that not only the midnight sky will be illuminated but our collective imagination as well. A moment that we may in fact look back on as the point we crossed the line and ushered in a cleaner, greener era.