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Confetti fell, fireworks boomed and TV cameras rolled as a massive crowd in New York’s Times Square said goodbye to a dizzying year dominated by a bitter presidential election and gave a full-throated cheer to the prospect of a better 2017.
An estimated 1 million people ushered in the new year, screaming and kissing as the glittering crystal ball dropped.
New Year’s Eve revelers began to fill Times Square hours before midnight. They braved cold temperatures and strong winds at the Crossroads of the World to greet 2017 amid heavy police protection.
Maria Raimilla, from New Jersey, said 2016 was rough.
“Everything is going to be new,” she said at midnight. “I just want to find happiness this year and leave all the bad things behind.”
Lori Haan, from Tucson, Ariz., and her husband were on their first trip to New York. She said she’s looking forward to what 2017 brings.
“This is a great start to the new year,” said Haan. “We are doing something new and exciting, and I hope that it’s a theme for the rest of the year.”
For more than two decades, security has gradually been tightened for the event. Recent deadly truck attacks in Germany and France brought about another security upgrade this year. Dozens of 20-ton sanitation trucks weighted with an extra 15 tons of sand blocked off streets leading to the celebration zone.
About 7,000 police officers, along with specially armed counterterrorism units and bomb-sniffing dogs, were on guard, police said.
“We’re well prepared,” said Police Commissioner James O’Neill. “All New Yorkers should feel safe, especially if you’re in Times Square. It is going to be the most protected place in the city.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pushed the Waterford crystal button that began the 60-second countdown to 2017.
Mariah Carey headlined in Times Square for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest on ABC. She had technical difficulties during her performance and stopped singing, then paced the stage and urged the audience to belt out the “Emotions” lyrics instead.
“I’m trying to be a good sport here,” she said.
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