PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh is gearing up to welcome in 2012.

Final preparations are underway today for the city’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night Pittsburgh; and those preps include a lighting test for “The Future of Pittsburgh” ball.

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This marks the fifth year that the First Night festivities will include the raising of “The Future of Pittsburgh” ball atop Penn Avenue Place to ring in the New Year.

“In Pittsburgh, we raise the future as opposed to dropping the ball at midnight,” Veronica Corpuz, of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, said.

It’s a lot to raise though, the ball weighs a whopping 1,000 pounds and is more than six feet across.

Perhaps most impressive, it’s covered in 1,100 LED lights, which can combine to make 64 billion different colors.

“We set it right before midnight,” Corpuz says. “So at 11:59, we make sure the ball is moving up the flagpole; and right at the last 10 seconds, there is a great light display that happens. And, of course, the fireworks are all synchronized.”

The ball was made by a company in Wilkinsburg. Two employees from that company will be in Downtown Pittsburgh Saturday night, manning the controls and making sure everything goes the way it should.

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“It is exciting,” said Joel Kennedy, of Technique Architectural Products. “There is a small amount of pressure too because it has to go off on schedule, but it’s nice to be a part of.”

This will be Kennedy’s first year on the roof of Penn Avenue Place during the big moment.

He says he and a co-worker start preparing well in advance.

“We come down, usually a few weeks out, and take it out of the containers and put it up on the pole, try and troubleshoot, make sure all the lights are working and just run it up and down,” said Kennedy. “Make sure it’s ready for the big night.”

Kennedy is expecting the ball to travel up 74 feet without a hitch; and other than changing a few light bulbs, the orb was in good shape.

The test runs have all gone flawless and now it’s just a waiting game.


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