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Massive Cleanup Following New Year's Eve Celebration In Times Square

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- While everybody else headed home after the party, a small army of sanitation workers sprang to action New Year's morning, ridding Times Square of tons of revelers' debris.

More than 170 workers, 26 mechanical sweepers and 38 leaf blowers were sent in immediately following the big New Year's Eve celebration.

Department of Sanitation spokeswoman Kathy Dawkins said that by 7 a.m. Thursday, Times Square was open to traffic.

PHOTOS: New Year's Eve In Times Square

"We revel in the cleaning," Dawkins told 1010 WINS. "We do it quickly and efficiently. That's part of our pride and service to all New Yorkers."

Last year, workers removed 52.3 tons of debris.

"It's quite a lot of confetti that gets left behind by a million people," Department of Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia told WCBS 880.

Those million people crammed into Times Square and welcomed the new year with cheers, hugs and kisses after the glittering Waterford crystal ball descended from high above.

"This is a world-renowned thing,'' said Christopher Crawford, 36, with his wife Chelsea who traveled from Paisley, Scotland. As the clock struck midnight, they kissed.

"There are no words for it,'' said Chelsea Crawford. "It's fantastic.''

Ryan Seacrest hosted the countdown show from Times Square. Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and Magic! were among the many musical guests.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, flanked by his wife and two children, pushed the ceremonial button that set the crystal ball in motion. Merrymakers from around the world in pink foam hats waving pink balloons exchanged good wishes and danced as Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York'' blared on loudspeakers.

When the ball dropped at midnight, it was estimated that more than a billion people from around the world watched.

Most arrived to secure their viewing spots early Wednesday morning. After passing through security, revelers were confined to massive pens they couldn't leave, even to use the restroom.

Thousands of officers were on scene, with rooftop patrols and police helicopters protecting the crowd, along with the bomb squad and a unit specializing in chemical and biological threats sweeping hotels, theaters, construction sites and parking garages. Plainclothes officers blended in while uniformed cops patrolled the streets.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton walked through the massive crowds after addressing nearly 80 threats to police posted on social media. Fifteen arrests were made.

It was also a very cold night. With temperatures at about 30 degrees, partygoers were bundled up in parkas, fleece-lined hats and gloves.

"I'm freezing," said Kristi Hernandez from Tampa, Florida. "I am not made for the north."

Protesters gathered in Union Square and later headed north on Sixth Avenue towards Times Square. They stayed on the sidewalks and police passed out a flier warning them that they could be arrested for disorderly conduct if they did not.

Police said they had prepared for protests and were on heightened alert.

But none of that seemed to weigh on revelers who donned goofy hats and noise makers, jumping up-and-down to stay warm.

Agustina Bernacchia, a tourist from Argentina, said she arrived early at Times Square to experience the New Year's Eve party she'd always seen on TV.

"It was a dream for us,'' she said.

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(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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