With New Year’s Eve quickly approaching and no sponsor to pay for the traditional ball that drops from Times Square, comedian Jackie Mason came to the rescue and agreed to cover the cost.
“The tradition of the ball is almost as holy as Yom Kippur or Passover,” Mason said. “When I heard that the whole tzimmes was threatening to cave in because of a lack of sponsor, I couldn’t allow it. I couldn’t bear to see this meaningful symbol and source of pride of New York disappear.”
Steven Israel, owner of One Times Square, the building from which the ball is dropped, called Jyll Rosenfeld, Mason’s manager, in search of help. Mason responded immediately, agreeing to give “whatever money was needed.”
Estimating the cost to be “anywhere from $30,000 to $50,000,” Mason said, “I’ve always been a compulsive spender. Thank God I make a living — this donation won’t wipe me out.”
Mason emphasized that he is sponsoring the New Year’s ball, or more accurately, the apple, because he is deeply grateful to his hometown.
“I’m doing this for my love of New York,” he said. “It’s the least I could do for the city that is my home and family.”
Confirming that there will be no ball dropped on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, Mason explained “New Year’s is not a gentile or religious holiday. We in America all live by the calendar of this country and therefore share in the celebration of January 1.”
Said Mason, echoing the words of Tevye the milkman, “I had to help out and save the ball — it’s tradition.”
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.