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Crowds welcome 2010 in Times Square

Emme Zheng, of Greensboro, N.C., foreground left, and

Emme Zheng, of Greensboro, N.C., foreground left, and others take part in the New Year's Eve festivities in New York's Times Square Thursday, Dec. 31, 2009. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Tina Fineberg

Times Square on New Year’s Eve isn’t for wimps.

Revelers willing to brave freezing rain — and hunger, thirst and the inability to go to the bathroom without losing their places — were rewarded with the joy of seeing the famed ball drop, up close, at midnight.

>> VIDEO: Watch the ball drop at Times Square in NYC.

>> PHOTOS: NYC revelers usher in the New Year

>> PHOTOS: New Year celebrations around the world.

Mukul Deshpande, 19, who was visiting family in Port Jefferson, arrived at 2 p.m. and scored a spot right in front of the Waterford-crystal-decorated ball. He said he had grown up watching the annual event on television in his native India.

“It’s very historic,” he said. “The whole country is watching. The whole world is watching.”

Hours before festivities began, people began making their way to Times Square, where a maze of barricades had been set to direct traffic.

Security was tight, police were omnipresent and the party went on, apparently without incident.

Earlier, those who had brought bags, despite the police ban, abandoned them at checkpoints such as the one at 50th and Broadway, where police swept them into a giant pile.

Drew Carleton, 25, of Bellport, had been one of the more reluctant revelers. But he was accompanied by two excited out-of-town guests who were more than happy to wait.

“I’ve been trying to talk him out of it,” Carleton said of his friend Dennis Miller, 26, of Indianapolis. “I was saying they’re going to make it ’til 4, and then they were going to want to leave. It’s 7 and they still don’t want to leave.”

The celebration drew people from around the world. Shivering despite wearing three pairs of socks and a fur coat, Oranous Zakapor, of Cairo,  said, “I am very excited because I want to see the ball go up and down.”

Meanwhile, revelers on the East End brought in the new year by partying like it was 1969. A Woodstock-themed party at Gurney’s Inn Resort and Spa in Montauk attracted hundreds who either had been at the seminal music festival or wished they had been.

The party reminded Barry Gordon, of East Hampton, of the festival. “I’m having so much fun reliving my days at Woodstock when I was 17,” he said.

Kristin Elliott, 46, of Bellport, who wore a peace sign around her neck, said, “I always wanted to be at Woodstock, but I was only 6 years old . . . I came tonight because this was the closest I could get.”

>> VIDEO: Watch the ball drop at Times Square in NYC.

>> PHOTOS: NYC revelers usher in the New Year

>> PHOTOS: New Year celebrations around the world.

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