Thousands gather in Times Square for New Year ball drop

By Andrew Kelly

NEW YORK (Reuters) – After standing in New York City’s Times Square for more than a dozen hours, thousands of revelers cheered in the New Year on Sunday night with the annual ceremony of a descending crystal-clad ball.

Many had arrived early in the morning for a spot in one of the barricaded pens set up by the New York Police Department, ahead of musical performances by Megan Thee Stallion and LL Cool J before the final countdown to midnight.

“This is my first time to celebrate the New Year in Times Square,” said Nadja Sjostrom, 44, who had traveled from Stockholm, Sweden, a few days earlier for the occasion and had been standing amid the giant illuminated billboards of Times Square since about 8 a.m..

It was a shorter commute for Markus Washington, a 49-year-old resident of Brooklyn, but also his first time at the Times Square celebration.

“It’s a very good feeling,” he said. “Awesome. Cold, but awesome.”

Antonio Ruz, 51, had booked a flight from Granada, Spain, in order to make a lifelong dream come true, joining the crowds to get into the barricaded area at about 8.15 a.m..

“Since I was a kid, I saw on TV this is spectacular show, so I had to live it,” he said. He called it a “once in a lifetime” moment, emphasizing that he did not plan to return. “I love New York, but 15 hours is too long to wait for a moment.”

(Reporting by Andrew Kelly and Jonathan Allen in New York: Editing by Neil Fullick)