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Outgoing U.N. chief to drop ball at Times Square New Year's Eve

By Stephen Feller
Outgoing U.N. chief to drop ball at Times Square New Year's Eve
Outgoing U.N. Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon was chosen to hit the button to start the 60-second decent of the Waterford crystal ball in Times Square that helps revelers count down the start of the new year. The Times Square celebration in New York City is attended by hundreds of thousands of people, as pictured just after midnight last year, and watched by hundreds of millions on television every year. File photo by Dennis Van Tine/UPI | License Photo

NEW YORK, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- In his last act as secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon will help usher in 2017 from the arguable center of the world: New York City.

Outgoing U.N. Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon was announced Monday as chosen to push the button that starts the descent of the giant Waterford crystal ball in Times Square, the moment that for decades has started the 60-second countdown to the start of a new year.

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Ban's last day as secretary-general ends at midnight on Dec. 31, meaning the ball's drop is a countdown on the closing seconds of his 10-year term as leader of the U.N. as much as it is a send-off for the year 2016.

"At a time when the world seems ever-more fractured, divided and disconnected the symbolism of our global celebration highlighting the United Nations and its Global Goals could not be more important," Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance, said of the symbolism of choosing Ban for the honor. "Unlike too many other voices in the world today, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's legacy of bringing people and nations together, supporting refugee relief efforts and opposing war align perfectly with New Year's hopes for a better and more just world."

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Previously, the button to start the ball's decent has been pushed by Muhammad Ali, Christopher Reeve and Bill and HIllary Clinton.

This year's New Year's event at Times Square includes performances by Mariah Carey, Gloria Estafan and Silento, as well as a video message from first lady Michelle Obama.

As of midnight on Jan. 1, 2017, Portugal's Antonio Guterres will take over as secretary-general of the U.N.

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