People gather in frigid Times Square for 2018 celebration
New Yorkers, celebrity entertainers and tourists from around the world gathered in a frigid Times Square on Sunday to mark the start of 2018 with a glittering crystal ball drop, a burst of confetti and midnight fireworks.
It was only 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius) in the city at 10 p.m., making it one of the coldest New Year celebrations on record — and one of the least crowded. Some of the metal pens, usually packed with people, were only half-full. Some revelers, bundled up in hats, gloves, face masks and numerous layers of clothing, jogged to keep warm, others bounced and danced. Some stood and shivered.
Remle Scott and her boyfriend, Brad Whittaker, of San Diego, arrived shortly after 9 a.m., saying they were trying to keep a positive attitude as temperatures hovered in the teens. Each was wearing several layers of clothing.
"Our toes are frozen, so we're just dealing with it by dancing," Scott said.
Some wore red scarfs that read "Happy New Year" and others donned yellow and purple hats as a pizza deliveryman sold pies to the hungry crowd.
In a prime viewing spot near 42nd Street, Alexander Ebrahim grinned as he looked around at the flashing lights of Times Square.
"I always saw it on TV, so I thought why not come out and see it in person," the Orange County, California, resident said. "It's an experience you can never forget."
Michael Waller made a snap decision on Saturday evening to drive straight from Columbus, Ohio. He made it to Times Square at 8 a.m. and waited all day in front of the ball.
"I didn't want to stay home for this, by myself," he said.
Mariah Carey will perform again on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve," hosted by Ryan Seacrest, after a bungled performance last year in which she stumbled through her short set, failing to sing for most of it despite a pre-recorded track of her songs playing in the background. Carey was visibly upset during the performance and blamed the show's production team, but they ultimately buried the hatchet. Carey posted an advertisement featuring herself for the show on Dec. 22: "Take 2," it said.
The dazzling finale of the show will be the traditional drop of a Waterford Crystal ball down a pole atop 1 Times Square.
This year, the ball is 12 feet (3.5 meters) in diameter, weighs 11,875 pounds (5,385 kilograms) and is covered with 2,688 triangles that change colors like a kaleidoscope, illuminated by 32,256 LED lights. When the first ball drop happened in 1907, it was made of iron and wood and adorned with 100 25-watt light bulbs. The first celebration in the area was in 1904, the year the city's first subway line started running.
After two terrorist attacks and a rampaging SUV driver who plowed into a crowd on the very spot where the party takes place, police were taking no chances.
Security was tighter than ever before. Garages in the area were sealed off. Detectives were stationed at area hotels working with security officials to prevent sniper attacks.
Thousands of uniformed officers lined the streets. Concrete blocks and sanitation trucks blocked vehicles from entering the secure area where spectators gathered. Partygoers passed through one of a dozen checkpoints where they were screened and then screened again as they made their way to the main event.
At 48th Street and 7th Avenue, Chris Garcia, his girlfriend, Zayra Velazquez, and her brother Edgar Valdez stood rigidly, having waited in the cold for almost six hours. Valdez said he felt "pretty safe" at the event.
"They checked us pretty good," he said. "Police checked what we had, and another scanned us with metal detectors."
The police department estimates that it costs $7.5 million to protect the event.
The event rivaled some of the coldest New Year's celebrations on record: In 1962 it was just 11 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius) outside, and in 1939 and 2008 it was 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 Celsius). At least it won't be as cold as the frostiest ball drop on record: 1 degree Fahrenheit (minus 17 Celsius) in 1907.
Tarana Burke, an activist who started a #MeToo campaign a decade ago to raise awareness about sexual violence, will start this year's ceremonial ball drop. She'll push the crystal button that officially begins the 60-second countdown to the new year.
Burke said she hopes the new year will bring "new momentum to fuel this work and we won't stop anytime soon."
Just minutes after midnight, partygoers drain from the area as if a giant tub stopper has been pulled up. And the cleanup begins, led by a small army of city employees including more than 200 sanitation workers, dozens of police officers who clear the area of confetti and other garbage. Crews removed more than 44 tons (40 metric tons) of debris last year.
Associated Press writer Colleen Long and radio correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this report.
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