Revelers in Times Square welcomed in 2013 with a spectacular display of fireworks and confetti as they watched the famous Waterford crystal ball make its annual descent to mark the New Year.
They were in good company, as world famous artists like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, and Psy performed at the Crossroads of the World.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was joined by the Radio City Rockettes on Monday night to kick off the festivities, with a crowd of approximately one million spectators crammed into the neighborhood to witness the magic of the 108-year-old tradition.
Tourists stood in Times Square for the better part of the day, braving the frigid New York City weather to spend New Year’s Eve under the dazzling lights of the theater district in midtown Manhattan. However, the event is often avoided by native New Yorkers, who tend to favor quieter and warmer celebrations.
A blocks-long line of bundled-up revelers with New Year’s hats and sunglasses boasting “2013” formed hours before the first ball drop in decades without Dick Clark, who died in April and was to be honored with a tribute concert and his name printed on pieces of confetti.
Security in Times Square was tight, with a mass of uniformed police and plainclothes officers assigned to blend into the crowd. With police Commissioner Ray Kelly proclaiming that Times Square would be the “safest place in the world on New Year’s Eve”, officers used barriers to prevent overcrowding and checkpoints to inspect vehicles, enforce a ban on alcohol and check handbags.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke briefly with Ryan Seacrest ahead of the night’s festivities about the conspicuous absence of the late great Dick Clark.
He wished Ryan Seacrest a happy new year, and joked that he hoped he would be invited after this next year. Michael Bloomberg, having now served three terms in office, cannot pursue another term.
Twenty minutes before the Waterford ball was scheduled to fall, Taylor Swift performed I Knew You Were Trouble, wearing a slim-fitting metallic red jacket and skin-tight leather pants. Her famous golden curls were tamed instead into a sleek blowout.
She then went straight into her other single, We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.
South Korean rapper Psy, who turned 35 today, wore a furry white coat and slim black turtleneck to perform his hit Gangnam Style, which has taken the world by storm with its infectious chorus.
He was joined by fellow rapper MC Hammer for a mash-up of Gangnam Style and Can’t Touch This.
In addition, Carley Rae Jepsen performed her song of the summer, Call Me Maybe.
Spectators enjoyed hourly shows in anticipation of the midnight finale. At midnight, the Times Square ball, covered with 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles and illuminated by more than 32,000 colored LEDs, will drop to mark the official start of 2013 in the U.S.
The star-studded lineup promises onlookers a show like no other but this year marks the sad absence of Dick Clark, the TV presenter whose legendary Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve has been a favorite on U.S. televisions every December 31 since its inception in 1974.
Dick Clark passed away in April at the age of 82.
He had already been training his heir apparent, radio personality, American Idol host and NBC correspondent Ryan Seacrest, and Seacrest will take the helm at the show tonight, carrying on Dick Clark’s legacy.
In advance of the midnight celebration, thousands of New Year’s revelers have already begun to pack into the waiting pens in Times Square to witness the annual tradition, as a crowd of one million people is set to make their way to the block party extraordinaire.
The waiting pens, set up to avoid a crowd surge, have been erected starting at West 40th St. and go all the way up to Central Park South around 59th St.
Police presence in the Broadway tourist trap is already intense but with the influx of visitors, law enforcement will be out in full force. Trash cans have already been removed, mail boxes sealed and handbags and vehicles are regularly being checked.