Breaking News

New York's Times Square abuzz with New Year's Eve excitement

WorldDec 31, 2016 10:56PM ET
Saved. See Saved Items.
This article has already been saved in your Saved Items
© Reuters. Gloria Estefan performs during a concert in Times Square on New Year's Eve in New York

By Frank McGurty

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Tens of thousands of merrymakers converged on Times Square (NYSE:SQ) on Saturday evening, hours before the giant New Year's Eve ball makes its midnight descent, a century-old New York tradition unfolding this year under an unprecedented blanket of security.

As many as 2 million people, surrounded by a ring of 40-ton sand trucks and some 7,000 police, are expected to gather in the "Crossroads of the World" to watch the kaleidoscopic sphere complete its minute-long drop, marking the beginning of 2017.

By sunset, a veritable sea of humanity had already streamed into the V-shaped plaza and down the avenues that cross at the square. Organizers handed out purple-and-gold "2017" top hats as police herded the revelers into temporary corrals designed for crowd control, each holding about hundreds of people. Anyone who leaves, even for a bathroom break, will lose his or her spot, according to the official website.

Michelle Adkins was so excited to be at America's most celebrated New Year's fete that she left her sleepy friend behind at the hotel and headed for the bright lights long before the witching hour.

"I've waited my whole life to see Times Square," said Adkins, 51, who works in a tire manufacturing plant in Rocky Mount, North Carolina. "I didn't come to New York to sleep! I ain't got no time for sleep!"

Even though city and federal officials say they are not aware of any credible threats, a protective perimeter of 65 hulking sanitation trucks filled with sand, as well as about 100 other smaller vehicles, encircled the Times Square area.

Placed in strategic positions, the "blockers" are intended to prevent a repetition of the truck attacks in Berlin and Nice earlier this year, officials said.

Despite the heavy police presence, or perhaps because of it, throngs of people, many from overseas, arrived early to get a prime view of festivities, which include live musical performances by Mariah Carey, Thomas Rhett and Gloria Estefan.

John O'Leary, 57, his wife, Claire, 51, and their two children were passing through Times Square on Saturday afternoon during a visit from their native England.

"It's just amazing," O'Leary said. "I just can't believe how they can manage all this, in terms of security."

For New York in winter, temperatures were relatively comfortable at just above 40F (5C) under cloudy skies, though the city warned of intermittent wind gusts.

At 11:59 p.m. (0459 GMT), the ball, formed by nearly 2,700 crystal triangles and lit by 32,000 lights, will begin to slide down a pole that sits atop a building at the head of the plaza. When it completes its descent at midnight, a giant "2017" sign will illuminate and a shower of fireworks will light up the sky.


It is not the first time that New York has set up a perimeter of heavy trucks at large gatherings. The same strategy helped protect crowds at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in November, after Islamic State militants encouraged followers to target the event, which drew about 3.5 million people.

At times since Donald Trump's election in November, blocker trucks have been positioned near Trump Tower, his Fifth Avenue headquarters and residence, a short distance from Times Square. The president-elect is spending the holidays in Florida.

For New Year's Eve, New York also deployed heavily armed police teams, snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs and helicopters. Coast Guard and police vessels patrolled waterways around Manhattan.

U.S. defense and security agencies said they believed the threat of militant attacks inside the United States was low during the New Year's holiday, though the possibility of an attack, no matter how remote, was always present, they said.

Likewise, New York Police Commissioner James O'Neill said at a briefing this week that there were "no direct concerns" related to this year's festivities in Times Square.

Even so, he said, "we are going to have one of the most-policed, best-protected events and one of the safest venues in the entire world given all the assets we deploy here."

Chicago, San Francisco and other big U.S. cities have also put heavy security in place to protect crowds expected to gather at public fireworks displays and other "first night" events.

In Washington, where federal budget cuts have done away with traditional New Year's Eve fireworks on the National Mall, no major events were planned. Police declined to comment on any special security plans, saying only that events across the world are monitored for their potential impact on the U.S. capital.

New York's Times Square abuzz with New Year's Eve excitement

Related Articles

Add a Comment

Comment Guidelines

We encourage you to use comments to engage with users, share your perspective and ask questions of authors and each other. However, in order to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve all come to value and expect, please keep the following criteria in mind: 

  • Enrich the conversation
  • Stay focused and on track. Only post material that’s relevant to the topic being discussed.
  • Be respectful. Even negative opinions can be framed positively and diplomatically.
  •  Use standard writing style. Include punctuation and upper and lower cases.
  • NOTE: Spam and/or promotional messages and links within a comment will be removed
  • Avoid profanity, slander or personal attacks directed at an author or another user.
  • Don’t Monopolize the Conversation. We appreciate passion and conviction, but we also believe strongly in giving everyone a chance to air their thoughts. Therefore, in addition to civil interaction, we expect commenters to offer their opinions succinctly and thoughtfully, but not so repeatedly that others are annoyed or offended. If we receive complaints about individuals who take over a thread or forum, we reserve the right to ban them from the site, without recourse.
  • Only English comments will be allowed.

Perpetrators of spam or abuse will be deleted from the site and prohibited from future registration at Investing.com’s discretion.

Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Write your thoughts here
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Post also to:
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Thanks for your comment. Please note that all comments are pending until approved by our moderators. It may therefore take some time before it appears on our website.
Are you sure you want to delete this chart?
Replace the attached chart with a new chart ?
Post 1000
Your ability to comment is currently suspended due to negative user reports. Your status will be reviewed by our moderators.
Please wait a minute before you try to comment again.
Add Chart to Comment
Report this comment

I feel that this comment is:

Comment flagged

Thank You!

Your report has been sent to our moderators for review
Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.
Continue with Google
Sign up with Email