Kisses, cheers and fireworks welcome 2020 in Times Square

2020-01-02 China Daily Editor:Cheng Zizhuo
A couple kiss during the New Year celebration on Times Square in New York, the United States, on Jan. 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Qin Lang)

A couple kiss during the New Year celebration on Times Square in New York, the United States, on Jan. 1, 2020. (Xinhua/Qin Lang)

Couples kissed. Others cheered and waved balloons as fireworks burst into the night sky and confetti fell to welcome the start of 2020 in New York City's Times Square.

In one of the globe's most-watched New Year's Eve spectacles, the crowd counted down the last seconds of 2019 as a luminescent crystal ball descended down a pole. Throngs of people cheered and sang along to the X Ambassadors' soul-stirring rendition of John Lennon's Imagine just before midnight.

About 1,360 kilograms of confetti showered the sea of attendees, many of whom were also briefly rained on earlier in the evening as they waited in security pens for performances by stars including rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

The frenzied moment of celebration came after many hours of waiting for much of the crowd.

Mathieu Plesotsky, 25, visiting from Hesse, Germany, said he wanted to be a part of the spectacle after watching it for years on TV. He arrived in Times Square at 1 pm with his girlfriend and bopped along to the performers while waiting for the ball to drop.

"We've just stayed, stood, tried not to pee and danced to the (1970s disco group) Village People," he said.

Ever since the New York Police Department tightened security and began cracking down on public drinking years ago, Times Square on New Year's Eve has been an endurance contest as much as a raucous celebration.

Many people arrive before noon to get a spot close to the action. Alcohol is banned. Spectators enter through a security screening gauntlet to enter pens they cannot leave, including to use the bathroom, if they hope to return.

The weather can be brutal.

When revelers rang in 2018, it was only -12 C. At the dawn of 2019, rain poured throughout the evening, leaving puddles on the performance stages.

The weather seemed perfect on Tuesday, until it wasn't. Rain, which wasn't in the forecast, briefly drenched the crowd just before 8:30 pm.

Still, the celebration was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

"It was a dream. I wanted to do it so this year a lot of people helped me to get here, so I'm here, and I'm thankful for that," said Mariemma Mejias, 48, who flew to New York for the festivities from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Amanda Camacho, 25, from Heredia, Costa Rica, said she and her mother spent their evening in the security pens "talking to people and meeting people and sharing", Camacho said.

"We met people from South Korea. We met people from Guatemala that were actually here just for New Year's Eve, so it has been pretty cool," she said.

While giddiness prevailed at the televised event, some important global issues were also driven home, as well.

High school science teachers and students, spotlighting efforts to combat climate change helped press the button that began the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to 2020, followed by the confetti.

Thousands of police officers were on hand for the festivities, plus more than 1,000 security cameras, helicopters and drones equipped with thermal-imaging and 3D-mapping capabilities and super-zoom lenses.

Aubrey Fannin, who traveled from Kirkland, Washington, with her friend Kennedy Bryne, is optimistic for 2020.

"This is our year," Fannin said moments after the clock struck midnight. "This is the world's year. Let's do it."

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