It's the biggest party of the year ... and the last one you'll ever have in 2012.
New Year's Eve celebrations will be in full swing on Monday and Tuesday, with all American eyes on New York's Times Square, the epicenter of New Years Eve revelry.
"The 'ball drop' was inspired by the time balls that were formally used as a time signal," according to Wikipedia:
"...at 11:59 p.m. ET, an 11,875-pound (5,386 kg), 12-foot (3.7 m) diameter Waterford crystal ball located on the roof of One Times Square is lowered down a pole that is 70 feet high, reaching the roof of the building one minute later to signal the start of the New Year. The Ball Drop has been held since 1907, and in recent years has averaged around a million spectators annually."
There are also similar "drop" events throughout the country, sometimes lowering objects representing the region (such as Atlanta's "Peach Drop", representing Georgia's identity as the "Peach State") Alongside these, some American cities and towns also hold First Night events; which aim to provide a family-oriented celebration centered around local arts and culture.
So where does the party (and, by default, the hangover) start first?
The Pacific Ocean island nation of Kiribati is the first country to celebrate New Year's Day. The first major city to do so is Sydney, Australia. In the U.S., Point Udall, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands is the first American territory to see the New Year, then all of the East Coast.
The last place to celebrate the New Year's is the Aleutian Island chain off of Alaska.
One thing that's pretty screwy is that the International Date Line isn't a straight line. Because of a lot of political and practical issues, it zig-zags all over the place. Because of this, Kiribati is actually further to the East than the Aleutian Islands.
The New Year's Eve ball is scheduled tol be raised at 6 p.m. EST and will begin its descent at 11:59 pm EST.
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