Times Square Security Tightened Ahead of New Year's Celebration

PHOTO The first New Years Eve ball was made of iron and wood. Today
its Waterford crystal.
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As hundreds of thousands of people prepared to gather in Times Square for the annual revelry at the "Crossroads of the World," New York City officials completed their preparation process: removing street furniture from the area (trash cans, mailboxes, newspaper racks); sealing 27- inch diameter, 197-pound manhole covers into their 395 pound frames; checking live camera feeds; and furnishing their command posts both on the scene and at police headquarters. They're also completing final duty rosters for the thousands of officers who will be on hand to keep revelers safe.

Federal and local intelligence and counter terror officials meanwhile told ABC News that there was no credible, specific terror threat timed to the celebration.

"We have no specific threats against the city on New Year's Eve," said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "Anytime large numbers of people come together we put in our counter terrorism overlay. We have other events going on: we have a four mile run in Central Park at midnight; a fireworks display at Prospect Park in Brooklyn; fireworks by the Statue of Liberty; … So it's not just Times Square. But I can assure you we looked at all of these events closely. We will have several thousand police officers deployed. … We have every indication that it will be a safe and happy event. "

On Thursday, the New York City Police Dept. was putting the finishing touches on the "ring of steel" it uses to protect revelers: a security screen consisting of 17-plus miles of barricades; entrance point searches; video feeds; and uniformed officers spaced every few yards. There will also be numerous security measures not quite so apparent to the untrained eye that include chemical sniffers, biological sensors and handheld radiation wands and pagers.

On Thursday, bulldozers and sanitation crews were removing the final tons of snow from the areas where penned-in revelers will wait for hours for the famed ball to drop.

A few fun facts for them to contemplate perhaps as they stand with noise makers, hats, and masks, bodies pressed against barricades, huddled against the cold and in some cases perhaps with their knees held close together to prevent nature's urges from getting the best of them:

The ball weighs six tons and is twelve feet in diameter.

It begins its 60-second count to 2011 from a stanchion 400 feet above Times Square.

The ball consists of 32,000 lightbulbs.

90,690 feet of aluminum and wooden police horses have fenced the area in years past.

That 17.18 mile protective fence weighed in, when last tallied by ABC News, at more than 355,000 pounds.

Authorities Keeping Close Eye on Times Square

According to Jeffrey Strauss, of Countdown Entertainment, which runs the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, "When you come here, the energy is something that you've never experienced before and that's feeling of community. It's unique."

"When you're watching Times Square, you're seeing people kissing and celebrating and having fun. That's what New Year's is all about," Strauss said.

The city will not make an official crowd estimate. But in years past the estimates have ranged up to a million people. And worldwide electronic viewership has been estimated at a billion or more, Strauss said.

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