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Crowds Gather In Times Square For New Year's Eve Celebration

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The crystal ball was in place Tuesday night, as crowds swarmed to the Crossroads of the World for the biggest party of the year.

More than one million revelers from around the world were expected to gather in Times Square for the big event, which is also expected to be watched by over a billion people worldwide.

The entertainment lineup for the night included Miley Cyrus, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Blondie, Icona Pop, Jencarlos Canela, El Dasa and Rodney Atkins, and Melissa Etheridge – who was performing her new song, "Uprising of Love," and a rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine."

The celebration also featured a trailer of "The Amazing Spider-Man 2" with Times Square footage.

"It's amazing because you have a million people here in Times Square joined by more than 150 million Americans all counting down towards midnight together. And over a billion people around the world will watch this live or on news coverage," Countdown Entertainment President Jeffrey Straus told WCBS 880's Jim Smith. "The entertainment is bigger and better than ever."

Crowds Gathering In Times Square For New Year's Eve Celebration

It was in the mid-20s Wednesday night, and with the stiff wind, it felt like the feet-tingling teens. And as Times Square New Year's Eve veterans know, revelers can't leave, and can't pee, as long as they're at the site – a period that can last 12 hours.

But the spirit in Times Square was warm and friendly. And revelers came all over the world to stand in the same spot for hours in the cold – just to experience the moment in time.

Hosana Silva is one of 10 students from Brazil who are studying in Chicago. She said she has been looking forward to New Year's Eve in New York ever since she landed in the U.S.

"When you get here, people were talking already about the ball drop, so we were like, 'We have to go there,' So we're here now," Silva said.

Silva said she couldn't feel her fingers, but it was all worth it.

Marlene Bender and her family came in from Southern California.

"It's once in a lifetime. I'm doing it for my granddaughter," she said.

As CBS 2's Hazel Sanchez reported, Abby Song and her mother from China have been waiting in their prime spot since 11 a.m. Tuesday.

She said the cold did not matter to her.

"This is a very special moment, and we're lucky to stand in the first row," Song said.

Tourists from closer to New York were equally excited.

"It's kind of on my bucket list -- that's why we we're here," said Brad Milburn of Oxford, Pa. "It's great being this close."

Earlier, Brittany from Newport, R.I., told 1010 WINS' Roger Stern that her group arrived in Times Square at the crack of dawn, hoping that the evening's celebrations would be worth the wait in the cold.

And as the sun went down and the temperature dropped even further, merry-makers did their best to bundle up, CBS 2's Sanchez reported.

"I've got two thermal tops, two t-shirts and two jumpers, two pairs of thermal trousers, 4 pairs of socks, boots -- but I'm still freezing," said Luke Merritt, of Oxford, England.

Police barricades were put into place and traffic has been blocked near the area of Times Square since 3 p.m. Tuesday.

EXTRA: NYC's 7 Best New Year's Eve Parties | Traffic & Transit

"There is a lot of activity going on. I can assure you, they will all be adequately policed," police Commissioner Ray Kelly said. "We had extensive planning sessions and briefings on it. I'm confident it will go well."

Thousands of police officers patrolled in and around Times Square, doing their best to make it a safe New Year's Eve despite the cold temperatures, Stern reported. Bomb-sniffing dogs were also out.

'The Entertainment Is Bigger And Better Than Ever'

"We were actually so surprised that we see all the police officers on duty right now," said Candace Fahrenbruch of Saginaw, Mich. "We actually felt really safe."

Police searched revelers and their bags for suspicious or banned items as they pack into Times Square, Sanchez reported.  Along with alcohol, large bags and backpacks were banned from Times Square celebrations.

This year's ball weighs 11,875 pounds and is covered by more than 2,500 Waterford crystals.

Meanwhile, the deep freeze was the lingering problem as the countdown to midnight continued. Many, such as Penny Shriver, came prepared.

"I got thermals, I got my husband's hunting socks my hunting pants," said Shriver, of Huntington, W.V.

"I have like four pants on, about five layers of shirts, and two sweaters," added Ruby Tobias of North Carolina."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a Bronx native, will lead the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button to signal the descent of the Times Square New Year's Eve ball.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not participate in the festivities. The outgoing mayor will celebrate in private with family and friends.

Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio will be sworn into office at a private ceremony at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

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