Nearly 200 new Waterford crystals were installed on the New Year’s Eve ball in Times Square in New York in preparation for Saturday’s celebration to welcome 2023. Since 1999, replacements for the 2,688 crystal panels that make up the ball have been designed and made by hand by Irish craftsmen at Waterford. Each year, a new theme is chosen. This year’s theme was the “Gift of Love,” incorporating intertwining love hearts, said Waterford master artisan Tom Brennan at the Times Square site. “We need this after the pandemic. We’ve all gone through a horrendous two years. We’ve come out the other side of it and we’ve come out better. We surround ourselves with love. We’ve got everything,” he said. This year, for the first time since before the pandemic, there will be no COVID-related restrictions on visitors willing to brave the cold and crowds of Times Square in midtown-Manhattan to count down the new year and see the ball drop on the stroke of midnight.