(ABC News) - When the New Year’s Eve ball drops from its perch atop One Times Square in New York City on Sunday, 2,688 Waterford Crystal triangles will shimmer and glow, welcoming in 2018 to the millions of people watching from below and on TV.
From a distance, the ball looks tiny, miniature. But up close it’s a crystal behemoth, weighing nearly 12,000 pounds.
For weeks Waterford engineers and artisans have been testing and re-testing the ball to make sure the drop goes smoothly.
“Testing is so thorough. It’s something we just take so seriously,” Tom Brennan, master artisan at Fiskars Living, the corporate parent of Waterford, told ABC News. “An hour before [the drop] we are still testing – the cabling, the lighting. We’re rechecking everything to just to make sure it’s perfect.”
This year’s theme is serenity, and 288 new panels designed to look like intertwining butterflies have been installed.
“We are trying to pass along the idea of tranquility, peace and calm to everyone,” Michael Craig of Fiskars Living Americas said.
The panels can withstand extreme heat and cold, and they never crack or chip, Brennan said. They are not, however, crafted from a specialized crystal.
“This is the same crystal you have at home that your mom fell in love with, that you use every single day,” he noted.
Waterford first teamed up with Times Square Alliance, the organization that co-produces the Times Square New Year's Eve celebration, in 1999. Before Waterford’s involvement, the ball was “just light bulbs and iron skin,” Craig said.
And “the big sphere in the sky” never leaves its post. The ball towers above Times Square 365 days a year.
More fun facts from Waterford:
The triangular panels vary in size and range in length from 4.75 inches to 5.75 inches per side.
The triangles are bolted to 672 LED modules which are attached to the aluminum frame of the ball.
The ball is capable of “creating a palette of more than 16 million vibrant colors and billions of patterns producing a spectacular kaleidoscope effect.”
The first New Year’s Eve ball celebration atop One Times Square took place in 1907.
The first time a ball dropped as a symbol of time passing as in England at the Royal Observatory at Greenwich in 1833.
That ball dropped daily at 1 p.m.