The Times Square Business Improvement District (TS-BID) has announced the general plan for the coming New Year celebration in Times Square, a worldwide media event which promises to be nothing short of a spectacular feat of production.
Ironically, the biggest opening in history, the celebration of the coming of year 2000, has prompted Broadway theatres to close on New Year's Eve this year in deference to the other activities planned for Times Square. Up to one million people may jam into the Times Square area itself and estimates of the television audience have reached as high as two billion viewers, roughly double the number that watched the event last year.
Indeed, the activities planned for the Times Square 2000 celebration are far reaching.
The concept of the event is "Times Square 2000, The Global Celebration at the Crossroads of the World."
Thousands of people submitted ideas for the theme of the show and six people came up with the idea of making it a day-long, global celebration of people all over the world. "We want the event to remind people that we are all one race, one humanity, and that we recognize this together as we move into the year 2000, " said Times Square BID president Brendan Sexton.
At a press conference at Hudson Scenic Studios Sept. 23, Times Square BID president Brendan Sexton unveiled the new Waterford Times Square ball and described an ambitious worldwide concept for the 95-year-old tradition of lowering the ball on New Year's Eve.
This year, there will be a 26-hour long event that will begin at 5:30 AM EST on Dec. 31 when the New Year is celebrated at the International Date Line in the South Pacific.
From that point on, special effects, sight, sound and giant puppet pageantry will be employed in Times Square according to time zone. As the New Year reaches successive time zones around the world, the various regions and peoples will be celebrated live in New York while their own regional festivities are shown simultaneously on large Panasonic Astrovision screens in Times Square.
Extensive web and satellite access of all the Times Square 2000 program will be made available free of charge.
At midnight EST, the ball will drop in Times Square according to long-held tradition. This year, however, the celebration continues past midnight in New York, until all of the world's time zones have celebrated the event together with the Times Square crowd.
For years, television viewers have celebrated the tradition of the dropping of the ball from atop One Times Square. This year the live audience and the television audience will be joined by the first widespread web broadcast of the event.
"What we're doing for the web as well as for video," explained Times Square 2000 executive producer Peter Kohlmann, "is making our content just as generically available on the web as we are on television. For instance, you will be able to receive a digital version of our video feed by going to timessquare2000.com."
-- By Murdoch McBride