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Her Light Fills Times Square

Sun., Dec. 29, 1996

A shy, Southern woman who gave away her life savings from 70 years of taking in laundry will begin this year’s noisy, glitzy New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square.

Oseola McCarty of Hattiesburg, Miss., will flip the switch starting the countdown to midnight, organizers said Friday.

At 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, the 88-year-old woman - who was honored by President Clinton for donating her $150,000 life savings to the University of Southern Mississippi - will turn on a powerful beam of light, which will illuminate the ball atop One Times Square that descends a 77-foot pole to count off the seconds to midnight.

“We are starting a new tradition by asking someone who embodies decency, imagination and energy, to signal the descent of the ball,” said Gretchen Dykstra, president of the Times Square Business Improvement District.

McCarty told the Hattiesburg American last week that she usually doesn’t stay up as late as the Times Square celebration, “but I can if I need to.”


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