Entertainment

BTS, Post Malone and Alanis Morissette at Times Square New Year's Eve celebration

Couples kissed. Others cheered and waved balloons as fireworks burst into the night sky and confetti fell to welcome the start of 2020 in New York City's Times Square.

Police presence big in Manhattan as crowds gather to see famous ball drop

K-pop group BTS, pictured rehearsing, performed at Times Square in New York City on New Year's Eve. (Times SquareNYC/Twitter)

Couples kissed. Others cheered and waved balloons as fireworks burst into the night sky and confetti fell to welcome the start of 2020 in New York City's Times Square.

In one of the globe's most-watched New Year's Eve spectacles, the crowd counted down the last seconds of 2019 as a luminescent crystal ball descended down a pole. Throngs of people cheered and sang along to the X Ambassadors' soul-stirring rendition of John Lennon's ImagineΒ just before midnight.

About 1,360 kilograms of confetti showered the sea of attendees, many of whom were also briefly rained on earlier in the evening as they waited in security pens for performances by stars including rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

The frenzied moment of celebration came after many hours of waiting for much of the crowd.

Eric and Aileen Sanchez-Himes brought their son and their nephew from Framingham, Mass., to experience what they consider a "bucket list item." Eric packed granola bars and water in his coat in case they got hungry. They arrived at 10:30 a.m. ET.

"I grew up in New York, in Brooklyn and the Bronx, and I've never done this, and this was the first time for us β€” and what better year than 2020 to do this," Aileen said.

Mathieu Plesotsky, 25, visiting from Hesse, Germany, said he wanted to be a part of the spectacle after watching it for years on TV. He arrived in Times Square at 1 p.m. with his girlfriend and bopped along to the performers while waiting for the ball to drop.

"We've just stayed, stand, tried not to pee, danced to the Village People," he said.

An endurance contest as much as a party

Ever since the NYPD tightened security and began cracking down on public drinking years ago, Times Square on New Year's Eve has been an endurance contest as much as a raucous celebration.

Many people arrive before noon to get a spot close to the action. Alcohol is banned. Spectators enter through a security screening gauntlet to enter pens they cannot leave, including to use the bathroom, if they hope to return.

The weather can be brutal.

When revellers rang in 2018, it wasΒ -12 C. For the dawn of 2019, rain poured throughout the evening, leaving puddles on the performance stages.

The weather seemed perfect Tuesday, until it wasn't. Rain, which wasn't in the forecast, briefly drenched the crowd just before 8:30 p.m.

Still, the celebration was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

"It was a dream.Β I wanted to do it, so this year a lot of people helped me to get here so I'm here, and I'm thankful for that," said Mariemma Mejias, 48, who flew to New York for the festivities from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Drones, helicopters part of security

While giddiness was expected to prevail at the televised event, some important global issues wouldΒ be driven home, as well.

The Associated Press presented a news reel highlighting the most memorable events of 2019.

High school science teachers and students, spotlighting efforts to combat climate change, helped press the button that begins the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to 2020, followed by the confetti.

Thousands of police officers were on hand for the festivities, plus more than 1,000 security cameras, helicopters and drones equipped with thermal-imaging and 3D-mapping capabilities and super-zoom lenses.

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