UPDATED 12/31/15 11:27 p.m.
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The ball was hoisted high, the confetti was set up and extra security was on guard Thursday night for a grand time in Times Square on New Year’s Eve.
As CBS2’s Brian Conybeare reported, the party officially started just after 6 p.m., when the largest crystal ball in the world was raised atop 1 Times Square.
“(It’s) pretty amazing; I love it so far,” said Rebecca Tabone of Australia.
Indeed, there was no place some 1 million revelers would rather be than the heart of Times Square.
Raul Flores drove out from Chicago, where WBBM-TV, CBS2 reported it was 24 degrees late Thursday evening.
“We lucked out,” Flores said. “It’s in the mid-40s, so this is beautiful weather.”
Hanna Mui of New Hope, Pennsylvania, thought standing outside for hours on end was worth it.
“It’s a once in a lifetime chance — I mean, to see the ball drop in New York?” she said. “I love it! I can’t wait!”
PHOTOS: New Year’s 2016 In Times Square
“The wait, the weather — it’s all worth it, because this is an experience that I’m going to enjoy a lot,” added Paloma Contriras of Argentina.
Tshishbanda Mpoyo traveled all the way from Congo, Africa.
“I came to visit my brother. He lives in Maryland, and we wanted to do this,” Mpoyo said. “And it’s been pretty crazy, but it’s worth it.”
Lisa Robinson of Boston and her friend, Cheri Reynolds, just had to get a selfie to post on Facebook.
“Actually, this was on my bucket list,” Robinson said. “This is our first time here, so we’re excited.”
And amid all the tourists from around the country and the world, CBS2 found some New York City natives enjoying the celebration.
“I’ve been here almost annually since 1993,” said William Stanford Jr. of the Bronx.
Stanford got as close to the stage as he cold like he has for more than 20 years …for one reason.
“I’ve met several celebrities — the late Dick Clark, Cindy Lauper, Regis Philbin,” he said.
As everyone waited, vendors sold silly hats for $10, and there was pizza at $20 a pop to help keep the crowd fed.
Glenn Washington, a Vietnam veteran from the Bronx, was hawking 2016 hats, glasses and noisemakers to the crowd. He said sales started slowly – but he expected that to change.
“The closer to midnight, the demand goes up,” he said.
As midnight drew closer, the crowd grew more and more excited. Guido Yujnovedsky did not mind that he had been waiting since 6:30 a.m.
“It’s been my all-time dream to be here on New Year’s Eve,” he said.
The party began with musical acts, including Charlie Puth, Demi Lovato and Carrie Underwood, and ends with fireworks and the descent of a glittering Waterford crystal ball from a rooftop flagpole.
After a test run Wednesday, the nearly 12,000-pound ball was sparkling at wait.
“We’re part of a global experience, a global celebration,” event organizer Jeffrey Strauss said. “There’s no other time like New Year’s Eve where we’re part of this global community.”
Thousands had already claimed their spots by the midday hours, with many lining up for a good view of the big stage.
Oscar Valencia, of Elizabeth, and his family have come to Times Square prepared — with snacks to last through the day.
“I live in this country 30 years; my first time coming,” Valencia said.
Quan-Ying Bao, originally from China, came from Connecticut just to see Times Square, but doesn’t plan on staying for tonight’s events.
“It’s just so early, so it’s like very surprising to me,” she told WCBS 880’s Ginny Kosola of the crowds.
The NYPD has its hands full dealing with the massive crowds being kept in pens until the giant Waterford crystal ball on top of 1 Times Square drops at midnight.
Some 6,000 police officers were on hand, including a new counterterrorism team and bomb sniffing dogs. Everyone has to go through layers of security and be checked with hand held magnetometers.
“Our biggest concern is obviously terrorism,” said NYPD Sgt. Ed Mullins. “Most people come here to have a good time, but it takes one or two, you know, lunatics to disrupt that good time.”
Meanwhile, the new NYPD operations center in downtown Manhattan monitored hundreds of camera feeds, CBS2’s Janelle Burrell reported.
“The numbers of officers that will be there will be extraordinary and the preparation is extraordinary as well,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Officers at the scene had powerful guns, radiation detectors and bomb sniffing dogs, but there was also a lot of security that won’t be seen.
Police Commissioner Bill Bratton talked with CBS2’s Conybeare late Thursday afternoon about New Year’s security efforts.
As of the 5 p.m. hour, Bratton characterized the police preparations as “so far so good.”
“The weather is cooperating. It’s cold but not intolerable. And crowds are arriving early, but it’s a good mood. Music’s about to start up – that will get them in an even better mood,” Bratton said.
Elsewhere in the world, concerns about terror threats altered or even canceled celebrations. In Brussels, the New Year’s Eve fireworks show was called off as Belgian prosecutors announced six people were detained in connection with a plot to attack the celebrations.
The planned fireworks display was also canceled in Paris, which opted instead for a five-minute video performance at the Arc de Triomphe.
And in Munich, police said there was “serious information” about an imminent attack coming Thursday night, and advised people to stay away from the city’s main train station and a second train station in the city’s Pasing neighborhood.
There were no credible threats in New York, but Bratton said the city was taking more precautions this year than in the past.
“We’re going full bore with everything, but to make sure it goes off safely, we’ve put a lot more security in place here,” Bratton said. “It’s the times we live in, but what we want people to do is come into Times Square, have a great time for themselves. This is where the world celebrates the New Year. You have events in Sydney and London elsewhere, but they celebrate it here.”
Bratton reminded people to report anything suspicious.
“I was just up at one of the hotels and a woman coming off the elevator says to the security director, ‘There’s a suitcase outside a room up on the 32nd floor,” Bratton said. “That’s what I want to see – that somebody sees something out of the ordinary, basically, help us out, and we’ll take care of it from there.”
Even after a year of headlines over extremist attacks, New York police are encouraging partygoers to come to the celebration and “leave the worrying to us.”
And everyone who talked to CBS2 felt the strong show of force was working.
“Hopefully, there is no problem, so hopefully, everybody has fun,” said Nusrat Yasmin of Bangladesh. “It’s 2016 coming up — New Year’s!
“Getting ready to party, enjoy life and do a lot of things I haven’t done yet, and travel,” said Tian Tran of Wisconsin.
Rather than safety, the main concern among spectators was the prospect of not being able to pee for several hours.
“I was thinking about maybe buying a diaper,” one woman joked.
(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)