NEW YORK - Times Square in New York City took a step closer to ringing in 2017 on Tuesday, with the arrival of this year's New Year's Eve ball.
The ball is covered in more than 2,600 Waterford crystals.
This year's ball features a new crystal design called the Gift of Kindness, with 288 crystals cut into rosettes to symbolize unity, according to the Times Square Alliance.
The ball is a geodesic sphere, 12 feet in diameter, and weighs 11,875 pounds.
The tradition of dropping a ball to mark a moment dates back to the 19th century, but it didn't originate as a New Year's Eve custom. "Time balls" were once displayed in harbors and lowered daily to signal a certain time of day so that ships could precisely set the chronometers they used for navigation. The New Year's Eve tradition began in 1907 when a time ball was dropped as part of a public celebration hosted by The New York Times at its building in Times Square.
The Times Square ball has been redesigned a number of times over the decades. It was originally made of iron, wood and 25-watt lightbulbs. The ball that will drop Saturday night in the moments leading up to midnight is made from Waterford crystal triangles, illuminated by thousands of LED lights.
Last week, the NYPD, FBI and Homeland Security released a joint security bulletin ahead of the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square.