The Crystal Ball of Hope

  • December 31, 2021
A large sphere made of unilluminated crystals and mult-colored light bulbs

Times Square New Year's Eve Ball, 2001. Courtesy Countdown Entertainment LLC.

Tonight we will say goodbye - just as we did on this date in 2001 - to a difficult year, while looking with great hope to the new one ahead.

Twenty years ago, as organizers of New York's New Year's Eve celebration, Countdown Entertainment and the Times Square Business Improvement District (now the Times Square Alliance) faced a unique challenge. Was it possible to commemorate the unfathomable loss of September 11 - less than four months earlier - while also celebrating the promise of 2002? 

The answer took the form of a redesigned New Year's Eve crystal ball, entitled "Hope for Healing." All 504 Waterford Crystal triangles adorning the iconic ball (6 feet in diameter and weighing over 1,000 pounds) would be replaced with newly crafted foliate-patterned crystals. One group would bear the names of the countries and regions from which 9/11 victims came; a second, the names of uniformed rescue units that lost members in the attacks; and a third, the hijacked flights and crash sites.

Rounded panel of engraved triangular crystals

Engraved crystal component, "Hope for Healing" New Year's Eve ball. 

In mid-December of 2001, Tom Cooke, Waterford Crystal's master engraver, travelled from Ireland to New York and set up shop at the Times Square Visitor Center. There, tourists and passersby could share in the commemoration as they watched him manually write out and then permanently etch the engravings into the crystals with a special drill. The ball descended over Times Square on the 31st, its brilliance symbolizing hope and reassuring the world. 

"Hope for Healing" fabricators donated the ball's engraved crystal triangles in 2011. Components of it were on display when the Museum opened.

Read our 2016 blog post about the very special New Year's Eve ball. 

May the shining light from this 2001 New Year's Eve ball carry us into 2022 as well. 

By 9/11 Memorial Staff

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