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NYE in Times Square Was a 'Drunken Brawl' Until This

Confetti turned everything around in 1992, says the man who handles it
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 31, 2018 8:34 AM CST
In this Jan. 1, 2017 file photo, revelers celebrate the new year as confetti flies over New York's Times Square.   (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
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(Newser) – "Up until that point, it had just been a drunken brawl." That's a description of what the Times Square New Year's Eve ball drop was like prior to 1992, coming from a man who turned it around. The secret ingredient: confetti. Treb Heining handles the dispersal of 3,000 pounds of it each year, and says that as soon as the city began dumping it on the crowds, the whole vibe of the event turned around. The New York Times looks at the mechanics of making the idea a reality.

The selection of the 100-or-so volunteers who facilitate the event is finalized months before the big day, but things really heat up on Dec. 29, when 45-pound boxes of confetti are unloaded and dispersed among the eight buildings from whose tops it will rain down. But the big moment occurs at 11:59:40, when Heining radios the order and confetti flies in what he describes as a "very violent act" that leaves the volunteers with sore arms. The full story has many more details, including how long the confetti remains airborne. (Read more New Year's Eve stories.)

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