Way back when: Today in history
BY GENE CURTIS
Monday, December 31, 2012
12/31/12 at 2:38 AM
1906 - Ball tradition begins
A ball was dropped at Times Square a second after midnight to signal the new year and started a tradition that has been observed annually, with the exception of two years during World War II. The crowd at the annual event grew and by the late 20th century had reached an estimated million revelers in Times Square and millions more on television to count down the seconds and watch as the ball begins its fall a minute before midnight each New Year's Eve. The first ball was made of wood and iron. The modern ball consists of 2,668 triangle-shaped Waterford crystal panels and, beginning in 2009, it is displayed year-around atop One Times Square.
1922 - A bootleggers' trick
Bootleggers pulled a fast one in a major violation of national prohibition. A mysterious message was sent to the sub chaser Hanson, used by federal dry agents of New York Harbor, ordering it into a dock for repairs. Then, 15 small boats slipped past and delivered booze that police said was worth millions. Federal Prohibition Zone Chief Appleby said he was "amazed" when he heard of the trick.
1967 - Packers win 'Ice Bowl'
The Green Bay Packers won the National Football League championship game by defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in a game that was called the Ice Bowl because the temperature was 13 below zero with a wind chill of 40 below zero. Despite the frigid weather - on the coldest Jan. 31 on record at Green Bay, according to the U.S. Weather Bureau - the game attracted a sell-out crowd of 50,861. The game officials were unable to use their whistles for most of the game because they froze to their lips - and later used voice commands.
1999 - Everything still works
It would be the most watched midnight in history as mankind stood on the threshold of what most considered the brink of a new century and a new millennium. Frequent predictions had warned of dire circumstances that would arrive with the year 2000. Technically, the century and millennium were not arriving until a year later, but the world had brushed that little detail aside and opted for the moment the calendar was to reach 2000. Regardless, it was a unique situation. For the first time, people had to change all four digits when writing the year. The next day, people were greeted with good news: Everything - water, electricity, computers - still worked.
A worker installs new crystals on the Times Square ball in 2009. Associated Press file