Revelers wait for midnight during New Year’s celebrations in Times Square as seen from the Marriott Marquis in New York, Sunday, Dec. 31, 2017. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Crystal ball drops in frigid Times Square to mark 2018

New Yorkers, celebrity entertainers and tourists from around the world packed a frigid Times Square to mark the start of 2018

The glittering crystal ball dropped with a burst of confetti and dazzling fireworks as revelers rang in 2018 in frigid Times Square — the second-coldest celebration there on record.

It was only 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius) in the city, and the celebration was less crowded than other years. Some of the metal pens, usually packed with people, were only partially full. Bundled up in hats, gloves, face masks and numerous layers of clothing, partygoers danced and hugged and kissed as the ball dropped.

Eva Santos, of New York, said she hoped 2018 would bring more unity “for our countries and other countries.”

“I hope for a peaceful year and just love, I hope for more love,” she said. “We’re hoping for better things to come. Our country needs to get better.”

New Yorker Colleen Keenan was with her son Kevin Keenan and his friend Devin Wright when midnight hit.

“It is a beautiful experience. There’s nothing like it, nothing at all like it,” she said as the ball dropped. “Times Square is the place to be on New Year’s Eve, that’s for sure. Now everyone is going to get drunk and get warm.”

Wright, of Long Beach, California, said she was “intoxicatingly in love with every moment of today.”

“I’m freezing, but it’s worth it,” she said. “Every second in this miserable cold is worth it.”

Mariah Carey made it through her set on “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” after bungling the performance last year. She dressed in a floor-length gown and a furry white coat, performing her 1990s hits “Vision of Love” and “Hero.”

Carey asked for hot tea between songs — and joked that it was “a disaster” that there wasn’t any. But a year ago she stumbled through her short set, failing to sing for most of it despite a pre-recorded track of her songs playing in the background. She was visibly upset during that performance and blamed the show’s production team, but they ultimately buried the hatchet.

The dazzling finale of the show was the traditional drop of a Waterford Crystal ball down a pole atop 1 Times Square.

This year, the ball was 12 feet (3.5 metres) in diameter, weighs 11,875 pounds (5,385 kilograms) and was covered with 2,688 triangles that change colours like a kaleidoscope, illuminated by 32,256 LED lights. When the first ball drop happened in 1907, it was made of iron and wood and adorned with 100 25-watt light bulbs. The first celebration in the area was in 1904, the year the city’s first subway line started running.

After two terrorist attacks and a rampaging SUV driver who plowed into a crowd on the very spot where the party takes place, police were taking no chances. Security was tighter than ever before. Garages in the area were sealed off. Detectives were stationed at area hotels working with security officials to prevent sniper attacks.

Thousands of uniformed officers lined the streets. Concrete blocks and sanitation trucks blocked vehicles from entering the secure area where spectators gathered. Partygoers passed through one of a dozen checkpoints where they were screened and then screened again as they made their way to the main event.

At 48th Street and Seventh Avenue, Chris Garcia, his girlfriend, Zayra Velazquez, and her brother Edgar Valdez stood rigidly, having waited in the cold for almost six hours. Valdez said he felt “pretty safe” at the event.

“They checked us pretty good,” he said. “Police checked what we had, and another scanned us with metal detectors.”

The police department estimated that it costs $7.5 million to protect the event.

The frostiest ball drop on record was 1 degree Fahrenheit (minus 17 Celsius) in 1907. In 1962 it was just 11 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius) outside, and in 1939 and 2008 it was 18 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 8 Celsius).

Sarah Cole and Michael Carter, from Newfoundland, Canada, said they weren’t deterred by the weather because they’re used to it.

“The experience is 100 per cent worth it,” she said. “The atmosphere, the people, the entertainment. What’s a little cold feet?”

Some wore red scarfs that read “Happy New Year” and others donned yellow and purple hats as a pizza deliveryman sold pies to the hungry crowd.

In a prime viewing spot near 42nd Street, Alexander Ebrahim grinned as he looked around at the flashing lights of Times Square.

“I always saw it on TV, so I thought why not come out and see it in person,” the Orange County, California, resident said. “It’s an experience you can never forget.”

Michael Waller made a snap decision on Saturday evening to drive straight from Columbus, Ohio. He made it to Times Square at 8 a.m. and waited all day in front of the ball.

“I didn’t want to stay home for this, by myself,” he said.

Tarana Burke, an activist who started a #MeToo campaign a decade ago to raise awareness about sexual violence, started the ceremonial ball drop, pushing the crystal button that officially began the 60-second countdown to the new year.

Just minutes after midnight, partygoers started to drain from the area as if a giant tub stopper had been pulled up. And the cleanup began, led by a small army of city employees including more than 200 sanitation workers, who clear the area of confetti and other garbage. Crews removed more than 44 tons (40 metric tons) of debris last year.

___

Associated Press writer Colleen Long and radio correspondent Julie Walker contributed to this report.

Rebecca Gibian And David James Jeans, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

 

Just Posted

UPDATE: Rockslide keeps Coquihalla northbound lane closed

Highway 5 is closed in one direction.

UPDATE: Wind warning ends for Metro Vancouver after thousands lose power

More than 34,000 BC Hydro customers in the dark on Sunday morning in the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast

WIND WARNING: Metro Vancouver expecting 100 km/h gusts Saturday night

Environment Canada issues warns of possibly dangerous conditions

Fire crews battling Laidlaw house fire

Neighbours say the family are safe, still unconfirmed by fire department

Gear swap in Langley helps make ball hockey more accessible for kids

A new initiative allows parents to empty garages of unused equipment and get new kids in the sport.

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

A new development surrounding plane that went missing around Revelstoke in November

The family of Ashley Bourgeault believe they have found a new clue

$130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic

Hot summer ticket: $130K could get you on a dive to the Titanic off Newfoundland

UK’s Princess Eugenie, daughter of Prince Andrew, engaged

Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson, will marry Jack Brooksbank in Autumn 2018

German nurse charged with 97 more murders

Niels Hoegel, serving a life sentence for two murders, has been indicted in nearly 100 more killings.

Two men guilty in murders of Alberta family could face 75 years

The pair were found guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of Klaus’s parents and sister in a rural home near Castor, Alberta

With Senate talks falling short, U.S. shutdown enters workweek

President Donald Trump accused Democrats of prioritizing services and security for noncitizens over U.S. citizens

Toronto mayor wants city to co-host 2026 FIFA World Cup

The mayor of Canada’s most populous city says he wants Toronto to be among the North American cities to co-host the 2026 FIFA World Cup

With a lighter touch, SAG Awards follows a familiar script

Morgan Freeman accepts the Life Achievement Award at the 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday

Most Read