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Million revelers expected in NYC's Times Square

Revelers gather in Times Square on December 31, 2012, in New York City
Revelers gather in Times Square on December 31, 2012, in New York City. Up to a million people expected to celebrate New Year's by viewing the traditional drop of a giant crystal ball -- as a billion more watch on TV around the world.

Revelers filled Times Square in New York on Monday, with up to a million people expected to celebrate New Year's by viewing the traditional drop of a giant crystal ball -- as a billion more watch on TV around the world.

With just a few hours to go before 2013, huge crowds assembled under the Manhattan neighborhood's famous neon advertising hoardings.

They had to turn up early to be sure of getting a good view of the nearly 12,000 pound (5,443 kilogram) ball, which features 32,000 LED lights and 2,688 Waterford crystals and slides down a pole to mark the final minute of the year.

"It's something you need to do in your life. It's New York and New Year's Eve," said an excited Juli, 18, visiting from Austria.

Revelers gather on Times Square on December 31, 2012 in New York City
Revelers gather in Times Square on December 31, 2012, in New York City. With just a few hours to go before 2013, huge crowds assembled under the Manhattan neighborhood's famous neon advertising hoardings.

Frederick Martineau, a sales rep from Quebec, Canada, made the trip to Times Square as a Christmas present for his girlfriend, Sonia Lapointe.

Asked about his 2013 resolution, Martineau, 38, patted his substantial midriff and grinned. "Guess what?"

Another Canadian couple, who were kitted out with tinsel and small golden trumpets, said coming to the Big Apple New Year's bash was a dream come true.

"I've always wanted to be here. I've watched it on TV for so many years," Sherry, 49, said.

"2012 was a hard year. I survived pancreatic cancer this year. I lost my brother this year. So we have come here with a lot of hope for next year."

Tourists bundled up against close-to-freezing temperatures were not the only ones cramming into the streets around New York's theater district.

Revelers gather in Times Square on December 31, 2012 in New York City
Revelers gather in Times Square on December 31, 2012 in New York City. A nearly 12,000 pound (5,443 kilogram) ball, which features 32,000 LED lights and 2,688 Waterford crystals, will slide down a pole to mark the final minute of the year.

Thousands of extra police were deployed, including large numbers of undercover officers. No alcohol or backpacks were permitted and once inside the rows of police barricades, party goers were required to stay or lose their spots.

The ball ceremony, watched by about a billion people live on television worldwide, was first performed with a wood-and-iron version on the eve of 1908.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg was being joined by the famed Rockettes dancers for the pushing of the button to send the ball downwards at 11:59 pm.

Last year, he shared the stage -- and then a lengthy midnight kiss -- with pop star Lady Gaga, leading to plenty of good-natured speculation about how the mayor would celebrate with 18 leggy Rockettes.

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