FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) -While weather caused some of the outdoor entertainment at the Fort Wayne New Year’s Eve Ball Drop to be canceled, the brand new ball this year will still drop as planned.
It’s been a year in the making and was quite an engineering feat. The 600-pound, 9-foot wide ball will lower from 80 feet in the air to ring in 2018. At 460,000 lumens, it’s also super bright.
“We’re almost as bright as the New York LED ball drop,” Philip Sheets, the lead engineer, said “It’s equivalent to 460 60-watt incandescent bulbs.”
The story of this ball started at last year’s inaugural ball drop.
“Literally at 12:05 a.m. we got a message after our virtual ball drop,” Shane Araujo, a member of the Ball Drop Committee, said.
Sheets said if they were interested, he and some engineer friends would build a ball for the 2017-2018 ball drop. The committee immediately was on board.
Four engineers put on their thinking caps and after designing and redesigning, construction officially started on December 7.
“We had to go through a lot of iterations of design because of budget constraints,” Sheets said.
In just two and a half weeks of cutting, painting, testing and retesting, along with several cases of beer and about 30 pizza deliveries, the dream became a reality.
“I’m floored by how talented these guys are,” Araujo said.
Nearly 300 square feet of red plexiglass cover this apple-like ball and at it’s core is lighting like no other.
“They found some interesting truck lighting that puts out a ton of lighting and they’re powering it like you would a stage.It sounds easy but it’s a ton of electrical engineering to figure it out,” Araujo explained.
For the engineers this project was more than a fun challenge. It was a way for them to give back to their community.
“Fort Wayne needs something like this. It’s growing so fast and so much life downtown, this is going to bring even more downtown,” Sheets said.
“It shows not only what we’re doing with the ball, but the kind of talent we have in Fort Wayne and if we can continue to put on great events downtown and help drive downtown development, that’s the focus of keeping amazing talent like these four here,” Araujo added.