New York gets ready for New Year’s Eve celebration
NEW YORK (AP) — The Waterford crystal ball is ready for its New Year’s close-up.
The glittering 11,875-pound ball was tested Tuesday ahead of the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square, where up to a million revelers are expected to ring in 2015. Workers coiled massive cables as the ball went up and down the flagpole atop 1 Times Square.
“It was such a difficult 2014, we’re going to have a great celebration to ring in the new year,” said Jeffrey Straus, president of the Times Square Alliance, which runs the event. “This is our opportunity to come together to celebrate the future.”
Ryan Seacrest will host the countdown show, with Taylor Swift, Idina Menzel, Florida Georgia Line and Magic! among the musical guests. When the clock strikes midnight and the ball drops, so will 1 ton of confetti — scraps of paper containing well wishes for the upcoming year.
The ball drop idea is being modeled around the country — Las Cruces, New Mexico, is holding a chile drop for the first time. Atlanta and Nashville, Tennessee, are hosting peach and music note drops.
In Boston, the mayor and police commissioner urged activists to hold off on a planned “die-in” protesting police violence during the city’s annual festivities. Mayor Martin Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans suggested the family-friendly First Night event is not the proper venue to address recent police killings of unarmed black men and boys in the U.S.
No major protests were planned in New York, where the police department is still mourning two officers shot to death in a patrol car on Dec. 20 by a man who vowed online to kill “pigs.” But security will be tight. NYPD Chief of Department James O’Neill said that though there were no known threats against the city or its officers, the department has added even more personnel.
“We’re absolutely concerned about the security of everyone there, including the police officers,” O’Neill said.
If any anti-police protesters show up, they will be allowed in — but they would have to arrive early because eager merrymakers often wait 10 hours or more to get a good spot to view the show. That also means staying put behind metal pens. There are no bathrooms and once people leave, they can’t come back to their spot. Police check backpacks. No alcohol is allowed.
Each year, the police department assigns thousands of extra patrol officers to the festivities to control the crowd and watch for any signs of trouble. Visitors will see heavily armed counterterrorism teams and bomb-sniffing dogs. Rooftop patrols and NYPD helicopters will keep an eye on the crowd, and plainclothes officers will blend in with revelers. Newly graduated officers will take part.
“Times Square is probably the safest place in New York City on New Year’s Eve,” O’Neill said.
The bomb squad and a unit specializing in chemical and biological threats will sweep hotels, theaters, construction sites and parking garages. They also will patrol the Times Square subway station and certain exits will be blocked off. The NYPD will rely on a network of thousands of closed-circuit security cameras blanketing lower Manhattan, parts of midtown Manhattan and the subway system.
After the show, sanitation crews will get to work cleaning up from the celebration, working through the night to rid the area of an estimated 50 tons of garbage including confetti, party hats and other leftovers from the revelry.
Associated Press Writer Philip Marcelo in Boston contributed to this report.