Times Square rings in 2007

Posted On January 2, 2007

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Hundreds of thousands of revelers from all over the world flooded Times Square on Sunday and rang in the New Year at the city’s massive holiday party.

Partygoers poured into the area before dark to snag prime viewing spots. At precisely midnight, the famed crystal ball above Times Square reached the bottom of its slow descent, ushering in 2007.

Numbering about a million by midnight, spectators passed through police checkpoints on their way to the party. Large bags and backpacks were prohibited, and bomb-sniffing dogs roamed the crowds that stretched from Broadway to Central Park. Public drinking was banned again, and visitors were corralled in a series of viewing pens to curtail their ability to bar hop until the show ends.

The lack of alcohol didn’t bother a spectator of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who was attending the event with friends from New Jersey. She wore a “Happy New Year” tiara and “2007” sunglasses. “I came here to be here, not to be in a bar down the street,” she said. “You can drink anytime.”

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week that revelers would be “safer in Times Square on New Year’s Eve than anyplace else,” but insisted that tight security will not spoil the show. “The ball drops and people scream and the confetti comes down and the fireworks go up and the band plays. And it’s just … it’s about as American and New York a thing as you can possibly do,” he said.

A room with a view: $2,000 > With relatively warm temperatures in the low 40s, this year could be a record-breaker on several counts, organizers said. An unprecedented 3.5 tons of confetti were being dumped on the crowd throughout the evening. Visitors are expected to drop tens of millions of dollars on food, booze and souvenirs, capping what some are calling the city’s busiest tourism year ever.

“When you think about five years ago, when we had our first New Year’s Eve after 9/11, there were two questions on everyone’s mind: Was there going to be another attack, and was New York going to make it?” said Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, which co-organizes the party. “That’s so far removed from where New York is now,” he said.

Indeed. Rooms with a view of the square at Doubletree Guest Suites are going for $2,000 for this year’s celebration. Tables at Foley’s Fish House, which has a panoramic view just above the crowd in the Marriott Renaissance New York Hotel, have sold out at a cost of between $750 and $1,000 per person for the evening, said Marriott spokeswoman Kathleen Duffy.

This year’s celebration shaped up to be a made-for-TV bonanza like never before. More than a dozen major acts were performing on three different stages during the evening, including pop singer Christina Aguilera, the rap group Three 6 Mafia, country band Rascal Flatts, R&B singer Toni Braxton, and the cast of the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys.”

Lesser known entertainers started performing as early as 6 p.m., when the famously flashy New Year’s Eve Ball was raised to the top of a flagpole. The popularity of live acts is a recent phenomenon, fueled by fierce competition for viewers by the television networks, several of which have arranged their own entertainment on their own stage.

“If you’re actually here, you get nonstop entertainment for six hours, whereas a few years ago, you would literally sit there and chatter your teeth,” said Tompkins.

Dick Clark was back for ABC’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” broadcast for the second time since a stroke caused him to skip a broadcast in 2004. His appearance last year was an abbreviated one in which he acknowledged that his illness had left him in “bad shape.” But Clark’s spokesman, Paul Shefrin, said the icon was doing better and planned to lead the countdown to midnight. “As each day or each month goes by, he improves a bit,” Shefrin said. “He looks forward to being on the air, and I hope that people feel the same way.”

As usual, the pinnacle of the evening was the drop of the ball at 11:59 p.m. to mark the last 60 seconds of 2006, followed by much cheering and kissing.

NEW YEAR’S EVE IN TIMES SQUARE. Ball drop, Sunday at 11:59 p.m. Street closures, access points and other information, www.timessquarenyc.org.