More than a billion people watch the Times Square ball drop each New Year’s Eve, but few know there's a Walgreens store in the middle of all the excitement
The Times Square ball drop has been an iconic part of the New Year’s Eve celebration since 1907, when the first ball was a simple wooden sphere covered with 100 light bulbs. Today, the midnight highlight is a high-tech aerial display that’s created from Waterford crystals and LED lights, beginning its descent from the roof of our flagship store at 1471 Broadway in New York City.
“In the weeks leading up to New Year’s Eve, swarms of news crews with cameras come through our store, go up our elevators to the 26th floor and climb two flights of stairs to our roof to broadcast next to the ball,” says store manager Grace Laurendi. “A few years ago, actors Robert De Niro and Jessica Biel also made their way through the aisles to reach the ball while filming the movie 'New Year’s Eve.'”
Preparing for the ball
The week before the world’s largest televised New Year’s Eve party, team members wear event T-shirts and hats from Nivea, the official sponsor of the Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop.
Another celebratory gift is the store’s private ball – at the ball. “A few days before New Year’s Eve, the owners of the One Times Square space invite everyone who works in the building and their families to a holiday party,” says Laurendi. “The rooftop space isn’t very large, so we take turns going up to see the ball – and a panoramic view of Manhattan.”
Although our One Times Square store is a 24-hour location, on New Year’s Eve it closes at noon so the roof and other areas can receive finishing touches before the big event. At one minute to midnight, the glistening ball makes its 60-second descent. When it stops, a confetti shower pours down on the crowd below.
“By the time we reopen at 6 a.m. on New Year’s Day, there’s hardly a trace of the festivities from the night before, except for the occasional confetti scrap on the ground outside,” says Laurendi. “In the end, the ball gets hoisted back onto the roof until next year and the flurry inside the store quiets a bit – but not too much. This is still, after all, Times Square.”