Crystal Ball Drops in Times Square, Ushering in 2015

A million people crammed into Times Square ushered in 2015 with cheers, hugs and kisses after the glittering New Year's Eve ball descended from high above and a ton of confetti wafted down onto revelers below.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, flanked by his wife and two children, pushed the ceremonial button that set the 11,875-pound Waterford crystal ball in motion. Merrymakers from around the world in pink foam hats waving pink balloons exchanged good wishes and danced as Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York'" blared on loudspeakers.

Some arrived 12 hours in advance Wednesday morning at the Crossroads of the World to secure coveted spots with pristine views of the ball perched high atop One Times Square for the annual celebration.

"This is a world renowned thing," said Christopher Crawford, 36, with his wife Chelsea who traveled from Paisley, Scotland. As the clock struck midnight, they kissed.

"Best day of my life apart from the day we got married," Christopher Crawford said.

"This was on my bucket list," said MacKynze Slatinsky, 15, who traveled with her sister and best friend from Monroe, Michigan, to bring in 2015 in New York, arriving at 10:30 a.m. to land a spot with a view on 44th Street. "It's really crowded and cold but what a great experience."

Ryan Seacrest was hosting the countdown show, with Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and Magic! among the musical guests. When the clock struck midnight, 1 ton of confetti containing well wishes for the upcoming year dropped along with the ball.

Best friends Allie Casertino and Melanie Catone traveled from nearby Glen Falls, New York, to watch the celebration, wearing extra layers, hats and gloves.

Almost immediately, sanitation officials were beginning their massive cleanup effort, sending in 178 workers, 26 mechanical sweepers and 38 leaf blowers to remove noisemakers, confetti and paper streamers.

Last year workers removed 52.3 tons of debris.

Security was tight but police officials said there were no specific threats against Times Square. Police department officials said they started planning for the Times Square ball drop just hours after the clock struck midnight, ushering in 2014.

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Thousands of police officers were on scene, with rooftop patrols and police helicopters protecting the crowd, along with the bomb squad and a unit specializing in chemical and biological threats sweeping hotels, theaters, construction sites and parking garages.

Police Commissioner William Bratton said there had been no specific threats directed against Times Square.

The celebration came in a city facing more demonstrations against police brutality even as it mourns the deaths of two officers shot in their patrol car by a man who vowed online to kill "pigs." A march from Union Square north as close to Times Square as possible was planned for Wednesday evening. Police said they had prepared for protests and were on heightened alert. Since the shootings, authorities have investigated at least 70 threats made against police officers, and 16 people have been arrested.

But none of that seemed to weigh on revelers Wednesday night, who donned goofy hats and noise makers, jumping up-and-down to stay warm.

Agustina Bernacchia, a tourist from Argentina, said she arrived early at Times Square to experience the New Year's Eve party she'd always seen on TV.

"It was a dream for us," she said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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