Around 1 million revelers converged on Times Square on Thursday to watch the ball drop and ring in the New Year at the “Crossroads of the World.”
Among them were three friends from Long Island who took the train into Manhattan for a chance to finally join in the action.
“This is the first time. I’ve never actually seen the ball drop,” said Michael Vasello, 20, of Merrick. He added that his 2016 resolutions included quitting smoking and working out a little more.
Josh Jackson, 20, of Bellmore said he hoped to “just fulfill the common aspirations and do more good things” in 2016. In two weeks, he said he would be able to check off one resolution when he travels to Beijing to practice his Mandarin.
“I just want to have fun tonight,” said David Arkin, 20, of Merrick, the third member of the trio.
A engaged couple from Uniondale also headed to Times Square.
Shaasia Blount 25, had colored her hair red in honor of a night on the town with Jose Lopez, 24, her fiancé.
“Hopefully, it’ll be a good ball of fun,” she said.
Without any prompting, Lopez said his New Year’s resolution was “to be a better person as an individual — for my fiancée.”
“Mine is to just stay in love because love conquers all,” responded Blount.
The NYPD had 10,000 cops, 1,000 security cameras and sophisticated sensors at the ready. City officials recommended using public transportation as parking restrictions and street closures were expected to cause traffic delays.
In a video posted by the NYPD on Twitter, a supervisor gave some advice to a group of officers about to hit the streets: “Put your best foot forward. Do your job. Be safe, and enjoy the night.”
Those officers and New Year’s Eve merrymakers found dry skies and agreeable temperatures. For the 8 p.m. to midnight ball-drop period, temperatures were expected to go from the mid-40s to right about 40, dipping to the mid-30s in the early hours of the New Year, the National Weather Service said.
The party began with musical acts that included Luke Bryan, Charlie Puth, Demi Lovato and Carrie Underwood, and ended with fireworks and the descent of a glittering crystal ball from a rooftop flagpole.
Times Square security encompassed an area stretching from West 34th Street to West 58th Street, and Sixth and Eighth avenues. There were 14 entry points for revelers who had to go through a preliminary security check and not carry any backpacks, bags or alcohol.
Those attending the festivities went through a second level of security screening before they entered pens where the public was kept during the buildup to the midnight hour, the NYPD said.
“Property may not be abandoned at checkpoints,” the NYPD said in a statement, emphasizing that “attendees who leave before the ball drops will not be able to gain entry to their original viewing area.”
Once inside the security cordon, the public saw bomb-sniffing dogs and cops with radiation detectors, as well as some with long rifles, officials said.
Police Commissioner William Bratton said as soon as 15 minutes into 2016, the Times Square area would start to empty out, although regular traffic patterns wouldn’t return for several hours.
To help travelers get back to Long Island, the Long Island Rail Road said 20 additional eastbound trains from Penn Station and Atlantic Terminal were scheduled for the early morning hours of New Year’s Day.
Beefed up with nearly 1,200 new recruits and several hundred heavily armed and specially trained critical response officers, the NYPD fielded a small army to guard the city at a time the world was still coming to terms with recent terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California.
With The Associated Press, Joan Gralla, Gary Dymski, Emily Ngo and Patricia Kitchen