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Throng Gathers In Times Square To Ring In 2015

UPDATED 01/01/15 01:02 a.m.

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Chilly temperatures did not stop an estimated one million people from all over the world from packing into Times Square, where they celebrated the dawn of 2015.

As CBS2's Weijia Jiang reported, spectators were cold, cramped, and some might say crazy for flooding Times Square on New Year's Eve. But they all thought it was worth it.

"Ever since I was little, I've been watching this, and I said someday, I want to be down in that madness," said Sherri Ries of Ohio "And here I am."

While some traveled thousands of miles, others just walked – including one couple from the East Village.

"I said I'm going to Times Square, and they said, 'Why?'" one woman said.

But she went, and clinched a spot at noon -- wearing two pairs of tights under her jeans, five layers under her coat, and two pairs of mittens.

Indeed, the dedicated revelers would not have it any other way. Preeti Rao clinched a spot at noon Wednesday, waiting in the chilly temps for more than nine hours.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it's always been on my bucket list," said Rao, of India.

"I wanted to get here early because I thought there were going to be a lot of people," Rebecca Perez from Carmel, N.Y. told CBS2's Janelle Burrell.

Throng Gathers In Times Square For New Year's Eve Celebration

"It's like a dream come true for me," another woman told 1010 WINS' Darius Radzius.

And Kevin French of San Francisco told WCBS 880's Jim Smith he has come to Times Square for New Year's every other year for about a decade. He said he was willing to brave the cold.

"Layers. Layers and thermals and just prepared for it so it don't even feel cold right now," French said.

On Tuesday, organizers tested the glittering 11,875-pound Waterford crystal ball atop 1 Times Square.

"You certainly don't want to screw it up when you have a billion people watching," said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance.

"We're going to have a great celebration to ring in the new year,'' said Jeffrey Straus with Countdown Entertainment. "This is our opportunity to come together to celebrate the future.''

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Ryan Seacrest hosted the countdown show, with Taylor Swift, Idina Menzel, Florida Georgia Line and Magic! among the musical guests.

When the clock struck midnight and the ball dropped, so did a ton of confetti containing well wishes for the upcoming year.

Tight Security

As CBS2's Jessica Schneider reported, security in Times Square was tight well ahead of the event. One by one, everyone who came to the festival was screened in a thorough process that was to go on for hours.

People packed into metal pens and set up all around Times Square. Once a pen filled up, it was closed off. Police began filling another until everyone was in place for the big ball drop.

"You get wanded; make sure there's no weapons, knives, and seems secure," said Tom Bridgman of Chicago.

Thousands of NYPD officers, including all of the new academy grads, were out in force in Times Square and all over the city.

Times Square Ready For New Year's Eve Celebration

"We're absolutely concerned about the security of everyone there, including the police officers,'' NYPD Chief of Department James O'Neill. "We will be patrolling the city by air, by sea, on the ground and in the subway system."

An NYPD spokesman told WCBS 880's Monica Miller the department is investigating all threats made against police, including those on social media referencing possible New Year's Eve attacks on cops.

As WCBS 880's Monica Miller reported, police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the Anti-Terrorism Unit has not identified any specific threats. But he said the department was ready for protests.

"We feel more than capable of dealing with those if and when they do occur," Bratton said.

Bratton: NYPD Is Ready For New Year's Eve Protests

Bratton said no threats of violence will be tolerated.

"Any threat against made against my officers are going to be dealt with very quickly, very effectively and we're not going to let any of them go by the board," he said. "Believe me."

Protesters gathered in Union Square, and later headed north on Sixth Avenue to 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.

An estimated 70 protesters were seen marching. There were no reports of arrests or disorderly behavior.

New York Beefs Up Security Around City Ahead Of New Years Eve
Activists take part in a protest march against police brutality that traveled from Union Square to Times Square on December 31, 2014 in New York City. The protest group was turned away from Times Square at 38th Street. Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the New York Army and Air National Guard will have an increased presence during this New Year's Eve, conducting extra security missions throughout New York City. (Photo by Kevin Hagen/Getty Images)

Police said earlier that they would be allowed in, but they would have to arrive early because eager merrymakers often wait 10 hours or more to get a good spot to view the show.

That also means staying put behind the metal pens. There are no bathrooms and once people leave, they can't come back to their spot.

Some revelers wore adult diapers to avert the prospect of not peeing for several hours.

Alcohol is also forbidden.

Police also had a strict rule against backpacks, and they had already confiscated hundreds by 5 p.m.

"They just checked our bag, and that was it, and then they patted us down," said Yasmeen Hussain of London. "It was very efficient; very organized. It's a lot more organized than I thought it would be."

"I think it's probably, just looking, one of the safest places to be, probably," said Shelly Pappas of Houston. "I'm not worried about security at all. I'm not. I feel pretty safe."

Each year, the police department assigns thousands of extra patrol officers to the festivities to control the crowd and watch for any signs of trouble. Visitors will see heavily armed counterterrorism teams and bomb-sniffing dogs. Rooftop patrols and NYPD helicopters will keep an eye on the crowd and plainclothes officers will blend in with revelers.

"Times Square is probably the safest place in New York City on New Year's Eve,'' O'Neill said.

The bomb squad and a unit specializing in chemical and biological threats will sweep hotels, theaters, construction sites and parking garages. They also will patrol the Times Square subway station and certain exits will be blocked off.

The NYPD will also rely on a network of thousands of closed-circuit security cameras blanketing lower Manhattan, parts of midtown Manhattan and the subway system.

"This sophisticated network of closed-circuit TV feeds 911 calls, suspicious package alerts and radiation level readings," O'Neill. "This works in real-time to send messages to police and security personnel."

Street Closures/Mass Transit

In addition to the tight security, there will be numerous street closures and parking restrictions.

Beginning at 1:30 p.m., Seventh Avenue between 41st and 59th streets, Broadway from 47th to 59th streets and 43rd to 47th streets from Sixth to Eighth avenue was closed.

Additional closures started at 6:30 p.m. Police said they would close off cross-town streets between Sixth and Eighth avenues from 37th to 41st streets, 49th to 59th streets and 48th Street from Fifth to Ninth avenues.

Metro-North, Long Island Rail Road, NJ TRANSIT and PATH ran extra trains for New Year's Eve revelers. For more information, click here.

The Cleanup

After the show, sanitation crews got to work cleaning up from the celebration, working through the night to rid the area of an estimated 50 tons of garbage including confetti, party hats and other leftovers from the revelry.

This year, 178 sanitation workers were on the job along with 26 mechanical sweepers and 25 collection trucks and leaf blower.

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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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