It's not just a new year this time around, it's a new decade.
And with the countdown to the new year just a days away, there's still time to ring in the big 1-0 in the Big Apple, among the crowds in Times Square.
Highlights of this year's entertainment include live performances by Daughtry and Jennifer Lopez. New Year's stalwarts Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest will be hosting specials, and reality show beauty Melissa Rycroft will be reporting on the celebration in and around Times Square.
But really, it's all about the ball, which descends from a flagpole at the top of One Times Square at the end of the midnight countdown. The 12-foot geodesic sphere, weighing 11,875 pounds and covered in 2,668 Waterford crystals, can be seen by crowds standing on Broadway, from 43rd Street to 50th Street, and Seventh Avenue, up to 59th Street.
No tickets are required, and admission to the celebration is free. Here's a survivors' guide to enjoying New Year's Eve in Times Square.
TAKE THE TRAIN
Leave the driving to the Long Island Rail Road, which usually adds trains to handle the extra traffic. For updated train information, call 516-822-LIRR in Nassau, 631-231-LIRR in Suffolk, or log onto the LIRR Web site at mta.info.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST POSITION
The closer you are to One Times Square, the better the view.
For the best vantage point, Long Islanders should arrive early in the afternoon - no later than about 3 p.m. Then you'll have the best shot at garnering a position in the Times Square "Bow Tie," (where Broadway and Seventh Avenue cross). It's the heartbeat of the celebration, where you can watch the entertainment and the ball drop.
By the way, there are no actual seats, except the ones you bring. It's SRO.
DO'S AND DON'TS
Access to Times Square is from Sixth or Eighth avenue, and it is controlled by the NYPD. Police will usher crowds into "viewing areas," also known as pens or barricades, where you'll spend the evening with fellow revelers. Because of security concerns, the bans are strict on alcoholic beverages (it's illegal to drink in public in New York City), glass bottles, bags and backpacks. Allowed: soft drinks in a plastic bottle with a label, snacks, iPods, PDAs, and cell phones for texting Happy New Year to friends at home or around the world.
You will be expected to remain in your viewing area and will potentially lose your spot if you leave for, say, a bathroom break. Minerva Martinez, spokeswoman for the Times Square Alliance, suggests abstaining from liquids for the duration of the evening. However, with no portable public restrooms in Times Square, a pit stop may become necessary at a local establishment. If you need relief, says Martinez: "Be courteous to the police and you may get a break."
HOW TO DRESS
Check the weather report before you leave the house, and dress accordingly. On New Year's Eve in Times Square, the mercury has been known to plummet below freezing. The Times Square Alliance Web site, timessquarenyc.org, recommends wearing "many layers, synthetics (such as Gore-Tex and polypropylene), wind-resistant and waterrepellent outerwear and a good hat." Martinez suggests buying a pack of hand warmers from a drugstore.
LEARN THAT SONG
After the ball descends, while the confetti rains down, the crowd sings along to - not "Auld Lang Syne" - the Frank Sinatra standard, "New York, New York." It's a New York tradition that will continue this year. Don't be reduced to humming along in 2010. Brush up on the lyrics to the NYC anthem about "the city that never sleeps," at sing365.com and songlyrics.com.