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1 million revelers in Times Square greet 2015

Fireworks explode overhead as revelers celebrate New Year's

Fireworks explode overhead as revelers celebrate New Year's Eve in Times Square on Dec. 31, 2014. Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

About 1 million visitors packed Times Square Wednesday night jamming streets for 14 blocks to Central Park to watch the ball drop and welcome in the new year.

Bracing frigid temperatures and tight security, revelers stood under the lights and counted down to midnight -- and 2015.

As temperatures continued to drop, David Santana, 49, and his family from Los Angeles maintained a healthy, positive attitude. The family staked out their front-row spot facing the crystal ball atop Times Square at 9 a.m.

"This is a once-in-a-lifetime [experience] and we haven't eaten, drank anything since this morning. That's the trick," Santana said.

His wife, Selva Solano, 49, said despite wearing three layers of clothing and two pairs of socks, they were still cold. Their daughter Christina Lopez, 25, said it was her dream to be in Times Square for New Year's Eve.

"We're freezing," Solano said. "That's how determined we are to be here. You only live once."

Police officials said planning for New Year's Eve was a yearlong endeavor. Setup Wednesday began at 4 a.m. with the first visitors arriving at 8 a.m. By evening, all of the designated pens for visitors were filled up to West 50th Street.

Thousands hoped to get a glimpse of the main performance stage and their favorite celebrities, including Taylor Swift and Jenny McCarthy.

The NYPD and FBI designated special units to patrol the event. "We do have thousands of cops. Times Square is going to be a very safe place to be tonight," NYPD Chief of Department James P. O'Neill said Wednesday evening.

Police received no specific threats to Times Square, but counterterrorism officers scanned the area for any suspicious activity or threats, Police Commissioner William Bratton said Wednesday evening.

NYPD officers also readied for ongoing protests, which began Dec. 3 after a Staten Island grand jury failed to indict the officer who apparently used a banned chokehold on Eric Garner, who died.

Around 11 p.m., 150 protesters marched from Herald Square heading north to Times Square but never made it. Police on foot and motorcycles confined them to the sidewalk.

With Maria Alvarez

and Dan Rivoli

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