Pat Shingleton: "New Year's Traditions..."
Whether you plan watching a ball or a red stick drop, traditions continue. On January 1, 1907, The New York Times moved its offices to a building on a square that now bears its name. To commemorate the paper's new home, Publisher Alfred Ochs provided a lavish New Year's celebration intended to attract parishioners from Trinity Church in lower Manhattan. The church was traditionally the gathering place on New Year's Eve as 200,000 people celebrated New Year's Eve for the first time, 106 years ago, in the newly-named Times Square. That same year, Ochs added a 700-pound ball, five feet in diameter that was made of iron and wood, covered with lights. Weather for the first event was 52 degrees with light rain. In 1917 it was minus 13 degrees with snow. New Year's Day traditions to ensure health and prosperity in 2016 include the consumption of pork, knackwurst, bratwurst, kielbasa, sauerkraut, applesauce or black eyed peas. To avoid getting hit by lightning this year, burn the Yule log. Traditional beliefs found that lightning would never hit a house with a smoldering block of oak. Roman generals wore laurel wreaths and sealskin coats during episodes of thunder. French peasants would carry "pierres de tonnerre" or thunderstones in their pockets to ward off lightning. And finally you may want to ring a bell. Church bells in medieval Europe have the inscription: "Fulgura Frango" meaning "I break up lightning strokes." Finally, my brother Kevin and Dave Moore are hosting the tenth year of a tradition that Kevin remembers from our years in Pittsburgh. Back then, Gus Brickner would crack the ice and jump or dive into the Monongahela River to usher in the New Year. Kevin and Dave did the same this morning on the rapidly rising Mississippi River in Baton Rouge. Dave and Kevin have been assisted by the Moore Family, Pat Flanagan, Boots Garland and other Baton Rouge dignitaries in raising money for this event. Ice was provided by Baton Rouge Water and proceeds from the event will benefit the Pat Shingleton Retirement Fund.