Times Square Prepares for a Big Night

A billion people will watch the celebration that a million people will attend tonight -- New Year's Eve in New York's Times Square, of course.

The celebration in Times Square began in 1905. The infamous ball comprised of wood and heavy iron made its debut two years later.

The ball is made from 500 Waterford crystals and illuminated by 600 bulbs. It's about six feet in diameter and weights 1,000 pounds. The world waits for the ball to descend a 77-foot pole during the final minute of the year, which of course, will be counted down by the unofficial mayor of Times Square, Dick Clark.

Clark missed last year's celebration after suffering a stroke. His co-host this year, Ryan Seacrest, remembers watching him as a child

"New Year's Eve is all about Dick Clark and his show," said Seacrest, the host of "American Idol." "It always has been. He's obviously been recovering, and he wasn't with us last year on the show. But he's going to be back, and he's giddy about it, and he's excited about it."


This year's celebration promises to be eventful and entertaining. Chart-topping singer Mariah Carey, who enjoyed a huge comeback this year, will perform. The Bangles, Chris Brown, Sean Paul, the Pussycat Dolls, Sugarland, 3 Doors Down and 311 will also be featured acts for ABC's "New Year's Rockin' Eve."

Even with all the revelry, New York officers will be on high alert. Backpacks and large bags are prohibited, and people may not drink alcohol on the street. Also, people are not allowed to leave any of their property at check points.

In addition, anyone who leaves the barricaded area will not be able to return to their spot. At 3:30, Times Square -- which will be covered by two tons of confetti by the party's end -- will be closed to traffic, so those who want to get in close to see the ball drop should probably take public transportation.

"They have people who are watching, observing, that are there, that are undercover," said Tim Tomkins, president of the Times Square Alliance. In addition, he added, there will be "thousands of uniformed officers."