In Times Square, 2017 arrives with ball drop, goofy hats, tight security

NEW YORK — An estimated 1 million people ushered in the new year in New York City’s Times Square, screaming and kissing as the glittering crystal ball dropped.

New Year’s Eve revelers, many donning oversized 2017 eyeglasses and green Statue of Liberty hats, began to fill Times Square hours before midnight. They braved cold temperatures and strong winds Saturday at the Crossroads of the World to greet 2017 amid heavy police protection.

Stefania Moran, from Puebla, Mexico, and five friends traveled to New York to secure a coveted spot in one of 35 metal pens where re-entry was prohibited.

 “I’ve always wanted to come to New York, and this is one of the must-dos before you die,” she said.

Dozens of 20-ton sanitation trucks weighted with an extra 15 tons of sand blocked off streets leading to the celebration zone to avoid the possibility of a truck attack like those in Germany and France in recent months. About 7,000 police officers, along with specially armed counterterrorism units and bomb-sniffing dogs, were on guard.

Mariah Carey was the headline performer in Times Square for “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest” on ABC.

Laura Ribera, from Bolivia, said people told her she was crazy for coming.

“But we wanted to be in New York,” she said. “Even the people in our hotel were asking us why we would go out there. But I feel safe.”

This year, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had the honor of pushing the Waterford crystal button that began a 60-second countdown to 2017.

After the crowd leaves, cleanup will be left to a small army of city employees including 235 sanitation workers, 45 police officers and two deputy police chiefs.

Last year, the crews removed more than 44 tons of debris.

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