New York, Jan 1 (DPA) New York City boosted its security preparations for New Year celebrations at Times Square, where up to 1 million people were gathering to watch the giant glitter ball drop in Times Square.
The world-famous square has been targeted repeatedly by Islamist militants, and police were strictly controlling entry to the area after giving a thorough sweep to the square and nearby buildings.
Bags and backpacks had to be left behind by revellers, who were slowly admitted after 4 p.m.
Broadcasters ABC, CNN and NBC had prime positions for the events. ABC's Dick Clark, 81, of American Bandstand fame in the 1950s, known as America's oldest teenager, is the most iconic of the broadcasters, continuing the New Year's eve tradition despite suffering a stroke in 2004.
The night includes performances by Backstreet Boys and Elvis Crespo. A Marine Corps couple who met while serving in Iraq won a contest to get married during the Times Square build-up to midnight.
There was no shortage of entertainment amidst the waiting crowd during the long hours leading up to midnight.
Yoshi Watanabe, 30, bared much of his body to near freezing temperatures and danced for dollars, the New York Daily News reported. The Tokyo native wore a vest, a belly-dancer's mini skirt and pharaoh's hat, and a friend blasted music from a boom box.
'It's a once-in-a-lifetime event that I wanted to do,' Watanabe was quoted as saying. On New Year's day, he planned to come back to Times Square dressed as a New Year's baby.