More than a million people in New York’s Times Square hailed the arrival of 2016 early Friday with kisses, cheers and a measure of relief as America’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebration unfolded without a hitch under a blanket of unprecedented security.
The transition to the new year was marked by the descent of the traditional lighted crystal ball from atop a skyscraper at the center of the famed Manhattan crossroads, the climax of an annual rite of winter dating back to 1904.
With memories of the deadly attacks in Paris and California still fresh, police took extraordinary measures to ensure security at a gathering that has come to define the New York experience for many visitors to the largest U.S. city.
But the event, broadcast live on national television, went off without a hint of trouble, as a festive mood prevailed despite – or perhaps because of – the heavy police presence.
“This is the center of the world on New Year’s Eve,” said Rick Milley, 60, who traveled from Boston with his wife, Debbie, 59, to ring in the new year in Times Square.
“This was on our bucket list,” Debbie Milley said as the couple took pictures of themselves using a selfie stick.
The pair have spent the holiday in New York before but never before in Times Square, a year-round tourist draw, filled with chain stores, family restaurants and flashy advertising displays.
About 6,000 uniformed and undercover police officers, 500 more than last year, patrolled the area, with the force bolstered…