About 6,000 uniformed police officers, 500 more than previous year, and undercover officers are expected to patrol the area with bomb-sniffing dogs and radiation detectors.
Department officials have said they are unaware of any specific, credible threat to the Times Square gathering.
Luke Bryan performs at the Times Square New Year’s Eve celebration on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2015, in NY.
Some in the crowd admitted to being nervous to gather in such a famous location in the weeks after the Paris and San Bernardino attacks. Many were heartened by the massive security presence, which led Mayor Bill de Blasio – who pushed the button to send the ball on its minute-long descent at 11:59 p.m. – and his police team to declare the city “the safest place in the world” on New Year’s Eve.
This year’s Times Square ball will feature an awesome array of 2,688 pieces of crystal triangles, which should ensure a light spectacle for millions at the event and watching live on TV around the world.
Almost 6,000 armed police officers are guarding Times Square as the year 2015 draws to a close. From a vantage point about 20 floors above, the revellers appeared to be tucked neatly into block-long honeycombs encircled by uniformed officers and support workers dressed in bright red coveralls.
“I always wanted to come here, but never took the chance”, said James Gomez, 39, of New Haven, Connecticut, as he surveyed the area with friends looking for a prime viewing spot.
“You haven’t lived until you’ve experienced Times Square on New Year’s”, said Eric Robertson, 25, of Philadelphia, who kissed his girlfriend as the crowd counted down the seconds to the New Year and the ball dropped at the stroke of midnight. He came even though “I’m scared”, he said.
In the hours before the ball drops from the top of a narrow wedge of a building at the southern end of the square, revelers will be entertained by musicians such as Carrie Underwood and Jessie J performing on multiple stages set up in the area. “There will be a tremendous number of officers you will see and many you won’t see”.
A New York Police Department officer speaks with revelers as they wait for the beginning of New Year’s Eve festivities in the Times Square area of New York December 31, 2015.
In addition, more than 100 million Americans and one billion people worldwide were expected to watch the festivities on television. Just hours earlier Thursday, an ex-con was charged in upstate NY with planning to carry out a New Year’s Eve attack at a bar to prove he was worthy of joining the Islamic State terror group. Police will stop visitors from carrying backpacks and large bags into the area, and will search smaller bags and scan people with metal detectors.