Late evening on Sunday, December 31, 2017 Americans take a break from work, or rest, or vacation, or partying and turn towards the Crossroads of the World, New York City’s Times Square in order to virtually join in the celebration and wait for the historic Ball Drop at Midnight from 77 feet atop the old New York Times building at 1 Times Square.

This annual street party and celebration of the New Year’s birth has taken place in the same place at the same time since 1907. The only exceptions to the Ball Drop were in the World War II years 1942 and 1943, because our country was in the depths of fighting a world war, and patriots didn’t want to violate the blackout safety regulations and possibly give our foreign enemies a chance to meddle in our nation’s affairs. Folks still gathered, they just did so with a darker background.

So New Year’s Eve 2017 marks the 110th time we have celebrated the New Year together with huge crowds outdoors in Times Square. Since the advent of the television age (early 1950’s) the entire nation has moved towards what is now a shared national event.

For the old farts among us, the first major TV entertainment linked to the Times Square festivities was, of course, the Guy Lombardo New Year’s Special (with the Royal Canadians orchestra) aired on CBS from 1956 until Lombardo passed away in 1977.

Gaetano Alberto Lombardo (Canadian-American)

is remembered for almost a half-century of New Year’s Eve big band remotes, first on radio, then on television. His orchestra played at the Roosevelt Grill in the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City from 1929 (“radio’s first nationwide New Year’s eve broadcast”) to 1959, and from then until 1976 at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Live broadcasts (and later telecasts) of their performances were a large part of New Year’s celebrations across North America; millions of people watched the show with friends at house parties. Because of this popularity, Lombardo was called “Mr. New Year’s Eve”.

The band’s first New Year’s Eve radio broadcast was in 1928; within a few years, they were heard live on the CBS Radio Network before midnight Eastern Time, then on the NBC Radio Network after midnight.

On December 31, 1956, the Lombardo band did their first New Year’s TV special on CBS; the program (and Lombardo’s 20 subsequent New Year’s Eve TV shows) included a live segment from Times Square. Although CBS carried most of the Lombardo New Year’s specials, there were a few years in the late 1960s and early 1970s when the special was syndicated live to individual TV stations instead of broadcast on a network. By the middle 1970s, the Lombardo TV show was facing competition, especially for younger viewers, from Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, but Lombardo remained popular among viewers, especially older ones.

Even after Lombardo’s death, the band’s New Year’s specials continued for two more years on CBS. The Royal Canadians’ recording of the traditional song “Auld Lang Syne” still plays as the first song of the new year in Times Square

Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Special

The upstart competing show was created and hosted by Dick Clark (of American Bandstand fame) starting in 1972, For the first two years Clark’s show ran on the NBC television network. In 1974 Clark moved his show to ABC, where it has aired uninterrupted for 46 years. And will be broadcast again tonight.

New Year’s Rockin’ Eve is primarily broadcast from Times Square in New York City, providing coverage of the New Year’s Eve festivities held there, culminating with the long-running ball drop leading to midnight and the New Year. The special also features pre-recorded segments featuring performances by popular musicians; since the 2017–18 edition, these concert segments (branded since the 2014-15 edition as the “Billboard Hollywood Party”) have been presented from a studio in Los Angeles by Ciara. Since the 2005–06 edition, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has also featured live performances from a stage in Times Square.

Since 2005, Ryan Seacrest has hosted the live show outside in Times Square (along with a celebrity correspondent, Jenny McCarthy since 2011, providing additional reports from attendees). From his return and until his death, Dick Clark hosted a limited number of segments from Times Square Studios approaching midnight, but still participated in the countdown and his tradition of kissing his wife, Kari Wigton, at midnight.

Since 2000–01’s edition, coverage has begun with a segment airing in primetime: initially airing at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT, beginning with the 2012-13 edition, the show was extended to 8:00 p.m. ET/PT to accommodate musical retrospective specials that aired from the 2011-12 to 2013-14 editions. These specials primarily featured countdowns of archived music performances from the Dick Clark Productions library, including the top New Year’s Rockin’ Eve performances, and the “30 Greatest Women in Music”. On the 2014-15 edition, the retrospective specials were dropped, leaving the Primetime portion occupying the entire ABC primetime block.

Following late local programming, the main New Year’s Rockin’ Eve broadcast begins at 11:30 p.m. ET/PT; this segment of the broadcast can be tape delayed (either by ABC’s west coast feed, or at the discretion of affiliates in the Central and Mountain Time zones) so the countdown corresponds to local time. After the conclusion of the live coverage from Times Square, the special continues into “Part 2”, which features the remainder of the pre-recorded concert segments. Part 2 runs into the early morning hours, and has run as late as 3:00 a.m. ET/PT in the past.

Beginning in the 2016-17 edition, New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has presented performances and coverage from New Orleans hosted by Lucy Hale, including midnight festivities for the Central Time Zone at Jackson Square

The inaugural live music star performance on December 31, 2005 was none other than singer Mariah Carey. She performed in front of a laughing, happy, throng of more than 750,000 New Year’s revelers outdoors in Times Square.

Here is the video of Mariah Carey’s live performance in New York in Times Square on December 31, 2005, lasting about 7:00 minutes:

Here is a panoramic photographic video of New Year’s in Time Square from 2003-2010. Launch the video and click on the 2006 button (lower left of screen) to see the 2005-2006 panoramic view that night.

Watch the 2005-2006 Times Square Ball Drop with Ryan Seacrest and Dick Clark in this YouTube video.

Note: This video shows Clark suffering residual health efforts (slurred speech) from a stroke he had suffered the year before, causing him to miss his own New Year’s show the year before (2005-2006). Seacrest took over as permanent Host from 2006 onwards. Clark continued to appear every year thereafter, in a limited role, until his death in 2012.

A New Year’s Tale of Trumpian Contrasts

And thereby hangs a tale for the Time of Trump.

The format of the live performances on New Year’s Eve in New York City in front of the huge home town crowds continues to this day. In terms of cultural and media impact, live street crowds today exceed 1,000,000 cheering spectators each year, while the TV broadcast audience is estimated to be 1 billion viewers around the world, among them approximately 100 million U.S. TV watchers.

The 2005-2006 cultural weight of the 750,000 live attendees at the annual show was relatively even greater because there was almost nothing of the social media structure we use and are influenced by every day now to distract from it.

Do you remember where you were on New Year’s Eve 10 years ago? No? We don’t blame you. YouTube was less than a year old, and we were still six months away from the birth of Twitter. Snapchat and Instagram? Please. For modern day archaeologists of the internet, it’s hard enough to piece together what happened when the ball dropped on New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 2006.

Now that’s some mega synergistic audience buzz exposure to envy for stubby fingered jealous types (you know who you are). The rest of us just get to enjoy the party.

In 2016, Mariah Carey was invited back to perform in Times Square again on New Year’s Eve. There was a serious sound equipment technical failure that prevented her from hearing her music and stage prompts, and spoiled her live performance quite badly. One of the hazards of live concerts as compared to recorded lip synching artistry, which can happen when real professionals, seriously up to their game, work without a safety net. Or a coterie of aides to deflect questions, hustle bosses off the stage for important, unspecified matters, etc.

Mariah Carey was invited back again this year by the ABC network and Dick Clark’s production company to perform live and exorcize the malevolent Ghost of Christmas Past. She will do it without artificial aids or props. Fingers crossed, her performance will live up to her superior demonstrated talents over more than 20 years as a top musical artist and entertain and delight the vast audiences eagerly watching, along with the traditional ceremony of Counting the New Year In.

In the Age of Trump, not a few haters are hoping for a musical train wreck to boost their puny, no talent, resentful egos. A true professional doesn’t duck out on professional challenges, like some who skip traditional Year End Press Conferences with Real Questions in order to get in another few rounds on golf on vacation, or scarf down some Big Macs and Large Fries combos. Be that as it may.

Beyond the potential drama of Carey’s live performance outdoors in cold NYC weather tonight, there are some other pointed ironies for one Trump.45 watching from West Palm Beach, where the nighttime low temperature is expected to be about 58 degrees. Not exactly toasty, but certainly quite comfortable for golfing and other important Presidential-type work.

Everybody knows Trump.45 has an awful big bee in his bonnet about crowds. He must always be the best, the tops, the ultimate, the cream of the crop, and the bee’s knees of popular adulation in the crowd realm. Sadly, he has already lost a number of times to that Kenyan Muslim Hussein Obama according to FAKE NEWS,

For example, largest inaugural crows, largest live Convention crowd, and largest outdoor political rally crowd. Winner: Obama. Trump.45 does hold the Trump-Obama one TV entertainment episode largest crowd contest record, partly because Obama has never done a reality TV series, and Trump.45 labored in the Apprentice vineyards for more than a decade (lots of practice). Trump.45 topped out at about 27 million and change viewers for a single episode, which ain’t awful (around 2004 or 2005 actually).

At least Obama is a guy. But Glory be, look at Mariah Carey’s 2005-New Year’s Eve viewer numbers, not to mention what will happen tonight. In one horrible stroke, she wiped out Trump.45’s all time live crowd attendance (at 750,000 versus 325,00 for his inaugural). On the very same night she simultaneously cleaned his clock on total one event (episode) US TV audience (100 million to his bestest 80 million in last 2016 debate (shared with Crooked Hillary, no less). And to top it all off, she annihilated his global total viewer ship for any TV appearance, anytime, anywhere, with a flat out 1 billion worldwide viewers in 2005-2006 when Trump.45’s best was about 27 million, and hasn’t risen to above 100 million for anything since then.

As Trump.45 was so proud to point out to the failing New York Times reporter just a couple of days ago at his Trump National Golf Club semi-informal, post-prandial get together, Trump.45 has a magnificent mixed combined total of 158 million social media acolytes on all social media outlets (assuming not a single duplicate is to be found among all that solid good as gold number of followers). So, as a final insult and thumb in your eye, how is Trump.45 supposed to register the notion that little Mariah Carey (who can’t really sing all that well anyhow. Everybody says so) appeared live on a TV broadcast to 1 billion souls worldwide at one time? Incroyable, impossible!!

Don’t forget she’s just a woman. And she has immigrant minority blood lines to boot. And she is 25 years younger than he is. And this is TV and crowd audience sizes we’re talking about, Trump.45’s second métier after Glorious Deal Making. So, from any and all angles, crowd size-wise, she didn’t just win, she snookered him very badly indeed. 3:1. 6:1, even 10:1 Oh, my!

With respect to the whole woman professional and courage thing, Carey faced her dismal 2016 live public performance problem head-on seizing the next opportunity to return to the location of her embarrassment and go again.

Couldn’t Big Daddy Trump.45, Master of the Political Universe, face down a few wimpy FAKE NEWS reporters at an actual White House News Conference where there would be some follow-up questions and he would have to stand and face them for a measly 40 minutes or so, one time. Hard to believe Trump.45 is going to let some silly woman by her example kick wet sand on his personal honor and courage like that. She returns to face her problem; Trump.45 does a patented shuffle and duck. And heads off for the mellow of his golfing outings, five days running. Getting’ out of Dodge A.S.A.P., by Jove. Yes, indeed.

Trump.45 needs to cash the Wolf Ticket if he is to carry his head high on the major entertainment star battlefield. I just bet Trump.45 is scratching his head trying to figure out how the disgraced Obama FBI, including Comey, managed to pull that one off.

And Then There’s the Whole Times Square Thing