NEW YORK — A million people crammed into New York's Times Square ushered in 2015 with cheers, hugs and kisses after the glittering New Year's Eve ball descended from high above and a ton of confetti wafted down onto revelers below.
"This is a world renowned thing," said Christopher Crawford, 36, with his wife Chelsea who traveled from Paisley, Scotland. As the clock struck midnight, they kissed.
"Best day of my life apart from the day we got married," Christopher Crawford said.
"There are no words for it," said Chelsea Crawford. "It's fantastic."
Mayor Bill de Blasio, flanked by his wife and two children, pushed the ceremonial button that set the 11,875-pound Waterford crystal ball in motion. Merrymakers from around the world in pink foam hats waving pink balloons exchanged good wishes and danced as Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" blared on loudspeakers.
Sonia Dost, 28, and her boyfriend Shakir Bayanzai, 29, traveled from San Francisco, California, to see the ball drop.
"It was on my bucket list," Dost said. "I love it. There are so many people."
Ryan Seacrest hosted the countdown show from Times Square. Taylor Swift, Florida Georgia Line and Magic! were among the many musical guests.
Some partygoers arrived at the Crossroads of the World half a day early to guarantee a prime spot for the annual celebration.
MacKynze Slatinsky, 15, of Monroe, Michigan, said she arrived at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday with her sister and best friend to secure their real estate. They didn't mind the cold, or lack of access to the bathroom — and sustained themselves on candy.
"We're having fun," she said earlier in the day. "It's worth it."
With temperatures at about 30 degrees, partygoers were bundled up in parkas, fleece-lined hats and gloves. Security was tight and department officials said they had started planning for the event just hours after the clock struck midnight in 2014.
Thousands of officers were on scene, with rooftop patrols and police helicopters protecting the crowd, along with the bomb squad and a unit specializing in chemical and biological threats sweeping hotels, theaters, construction sites and parking garages. Plainclothes officers blended in while uniformed cops patrolled the streets.
Almost immediately, sanitation officials were beginning their massive cleanup effort, sending in 178 workers, 26 mechanical sweepers and 38 leaf blowers to remove noisemakers, confetti and paper streamers.
Last year workers removed 52.3 tons of debris.
The celebration came in a city facing more demonstrations against police brutality even as it mourns the deaths of two officers shot in their patrol car by a man who vowed online to kill "pigs." A march as close to Times Square as possible — it broke up around 34th Street — occurred Wednesday evening but did not interrupt the Times Square celebration. Police said they had prepared for protests and were on heightened alert.
But none of that seemed to weigh on revelers who donned goofy hats and noise makers, jumping up-and-down to stay warm.
Agustina Bernacchia, a tourist from Argentina, said she arrived early at Times Square to experience the New Year's Eve party she'd always seen on TV.
"It was a dream for us," she said.
Associated Press video journalist David Martin contributed to this report.