The star of the world-famous holiday extravaganza was revamped this year with 9,576 energy-efficient bulbs that use about the same amount of electricity as 10 toasters.
Philips Lighting, which created the light-emitting diodes, or LED bulbs, specifically for the event, says they are smaller but more than twice as bright as last year's lights, which were a mix of more than 600 incandescent and halogen bulbs. And the new lights can create more than 16 million colors for a kaleidoscope of hues against the 672 Waterford Crystal triangles.
"The whole world looks up to New York's New Year's Eve. I'm proud to be able to save energy and show off this technology to the world with such a special event," said Kaj den Daas, chairman of Philips Lighting North America.
The ball was first dropped for the New Year's Eve celebration in 1907. Made of iron and wood, it weighed 700 pounds and was lit with 100 25-watt incandescent bulbs.
Over the century, five other versions of the ball were designed to ring in the New Year. In 1999, the ball was made from crystal to welcome the new millennium.
This year, the motif is "Let There Be Light" and features a stylized, radiating sunburst on each of the crystal triangles.
The new design and technology "will make the ball glow like nothing else," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, a business group in charge of the event.
The ball was tested successfully Sunday afternoon, making its way slowly up and down the 77-foot flagpole atop 1 Times Square with bursts of color.
More than a million revelers were expected to crowd the streets for the annual New Year's Eve celebration Monday.
Also this year, wishes from people around the world will be included among the confetti dropped when the clock strikes midnight. For the first time, people can write wishes for the New Year on the multicolored confetti by visiting the Times Square Information Center or by typing a message on a "virtual wishing wall" online.
Those message-carrying pieces will be mixed in with the rest of the more than one ton of confetti, organizers said.