Every year, the United States rings in the New Year before midnight. One of the most recognizable events celebrating that occasion includes dropping a crystal ball in Times Square in front of millions of people from New York City and around the world in chilly temperatures, which viewers can watch online via live stream free below.
According to the Times Square Alliance, a nonprofit organization that looks after the iconic landmark, New York City first started ringing in the New Year with great fanfare back in 1904. It was also the year that the city opened its first subway line.
"This inaugural bash commemorated the official opening of the new headquarters of The New York Times," Times Square Alliance wrote. "The newspaper's owner, German Jewish immigrant Alfred Ochs, had successfully lobbied the city to rename Longacre Square, the district surrounding his paper's new home, in honor of the famous publication."
The organization noted that the first celebration of that occasion involved the use of a fireworks display. However, the city later banned its use in New Year celebrations, prompting Ochs to find a suitable alternative.
"He arranged to have a large, illuminated seven-hundred-pound iron and wood ball lowered from the tower flagpole precisely at midnight to signal the end of 1907 and the beginning of 1908," Times Square Alliance wrote.
Although The New York Times left the Times Tower, which housed the ball in 1914, they retained ownership of the building until 1961 and, save for a period between 1942 and 1943 due to World War II efforts, the ball signaled the start of the New Year in New York City.
"By then, New Year's Eve in Times Square was already a permanent part of our cultural fabric," Times Square Alliance wrote.
The area, now known as One Times Square, is where hundreds of people wait for the ball drop to happen at midnight. According to Times Square Alliance, a worldwide audience estimated at over one billion people watches the ceremony each year thanks to satellite technology.
"The lowering of the Ball has become the world's symbolic welcome to the New Year," Times Square Alliance stated.
As for celebrations this time around, an article on Inquisitr noted that many Americans traditionally tune in to ABC TV to watch Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve. The music talent scheduled to perform on that show to ring in 2015, according to Dick Clark Productions, include Taylor Swift, British group One Direction, Nick Jonas, Train, Brantley Gilbert, Elton John and many other celebrities located in New York City, Los Angeles and Nashville, Tenn.
The official Times Square broadcast with ball drop can be found on ABC through Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2015, hosted by Ryan Seacrest; most U.S. TV markets start airing the ball drop at 11:35 p.m. ET. Online viewers anywhere in the world can either download mobile apps or stream the event live on the following three sites: TimesSquareNYC.org, TimesSquareBall.net or Ustream.tv/2015.