Kisses, cheers, fireworks greet 2020 in Times Square

NEW YORK (AP) — Couples kissed. Others cheered and waved balloons as fireworks burst into the night sky and confetti fell to welcome the start of 2020 in New York City's Times Square.

In one of the globe's most-watched New Year's Eve spectacles, the crowd counted down the last seconds of 2019 as a luminescent crystal ball descended down a pole. Throngs of people cheered and sang along to the X Ambassadors' soul-stirring rendition of John Lennon's "Imagine" just before midnight.

About 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti showered the sea of attendees, many of whom were also briefly rained on earlier in the evening as they waited in security pens for performances by stars including rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

The frenzied moment of celebration came after many hours of waiting for much of the crowd.

Eric and Aileen Sanchez-Himes brought their son and nephew from Framingham, Massachuetts, to experience what they consider a “bucket list item.” Eric packed granola bars and water in his coat in case they got hungry. They arrived at 10:30 a.m.

“I grew up in New York, in Brooklyn and the Bronx and I’ve never done this and this was the first time for us and what better year than 2020 to do this," Aileen said.

Mathieu Plesotsky, 25, visiting from Hesse, Germany, said he wanted to be a part of the spectacle after watching it for years on TV. He arrived in Times Square at 1 p.m. with his girlfriend and bopped along to the performers while waiting for the ball to drop.

"We’ve just stayed, stand, tried not to pee, danced to the Village People,” he said.

Ever since the NYPD tightened security and began cracking down on public drinking years ago, Times Square on New Year’s Eve has been an endurance contest as much as a raucous celebration.

Many people arrive before noon to get a spot close to the action. Alcohol is banned. Spectators enter through a security screening gauntlet to enter pens they cannot leave, including to use the bathroom, if they hope to return.

The weather can be brutal.

34 PHOTOS
New Year's Eve in Times Square through the years
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New Year's Eve in Times Square through the years
(Original Caption) 1/1/1942-New York, New York-ORIGINAL CAPTION READS: Picture shows the crowd cheering in Times Square on New Years Eve, 1941.
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Crowd fills Times Square for New Year's Eve celebration. (Photo by Ebbs Breuer/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Crowds standing near an illuminated sign advertising the roman epic 'Quo Vadis' in New York's Times Square on New Years Eve. (Photo by Ernst Haas/Getty Images)
Celebrations on New Year's Eve, 1955, attract a huge crowd at Times Square.
(Original Caption) 1/1/1975-New York, New York-ORIGINAL CAPTION READS: Thousands of joyous New Year's Eve revelers crowd the Times Square area to watch the 86-foot descent of the 100-pound ball atop the 'building with no name.' In previous years, this building was called the Allied Chemical Building but, a man named ALex Barker, bought the structure earlier this year and announced that he would 'unname' it as of midnight.
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1980 - 12/31/79 - 1/1/80, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, Monday, Dec. 31(11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1980', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1988 - 12/31/87 - 1/1/88, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, on Thursday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1988', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., (Photo by Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: New Year's Eve celebrants wave balloons on a rainy and cold night in New York's Times Square as they await the coming of 1995 31 December. Police estimated that as many as 300,000 people crowded into Times Square to celebrate.(COLOR KEY: Barrier is blue, white letters.) (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: As the new year arrives, New York's Times Square is filled with celebrants 01 January. Despite cold and rainy weather, a crowd estimated at over 300,000 filled the streets to welcome 1995.(COLOR KEY: JVC sign is red with white letters.) (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: A New York City police officer (R) distributes balloons to some of the 500,000 people who braved the cold weather to celebrate the New Year in Times Square in New York 31 December. New York City Mayor and Rudolph Giuliani and a young Chinese gymnast ushered in 1999 pressed the button together that dropped the New Year's Ball to signal the beginning of the New Year. AFP PHOTOS Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Father Time, a 16-foot-tall puppet, drifts above the crowd in Times Square which gathered to celebrate the New Year in New York 31 December. An estimated 500,000 people braved temperatures in the 20 degree range to welcome in 1999. AFP PHOTOS/Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
N 344606 002 12/31/98 New York City New Year's Eve In Times Square (Photo By Jeff Christensen/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Jamie Doran (L) and Lindsay Massey (C) from Virginia and Dana Martinez (R) from Texas begin celebrating the new year just before midnight 31 December in New York's Times Square. Thousands braved harsh tmperatures to welcome 1998. AFP PHOTO Stan HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 29: Performers are dressed for the chill temperatures as they rehearse for year 2000 New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square. (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Steven Goldmacher of Philips Lighting Company screws in one of the 168 light bulbs in the Times Square New Year's Eve ball 20 December 1999 in New York. The six-feet diameter, 1,070 pound crystal ball will make its debut as the centerpiece of the Times Square 2000 celebration. AFP PHOTO/Doug KANTER (Photo credit should read DOUG KANTER/AFP/Getty Images)
360337 07: A crowd watches a street performer in Times Square November 15, 1999 in New York City. The Times Square area is undergoing a thorough revitalization prior to hosting its largest New Year''s Eve celebration, an event that will include elements of theater, street carnival, sound and light shows and dance to ring in the millennium for over 24 hours for every country in every time zone. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Liaison)
360337 07: A crowd watches a street performer in Times Square November 15, 1999 in New York City. The Times Square area is undergoing a thorough revitalization prior to hosting its largest New Year''s Eve celebration, an event that will include elements of theater, street carnival, sound and light shows and dance to ring in the millennium for over 24 hours for every country in every time zone. (Photo by Brent Stirton/Liaison)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 1999: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1999 - 12/31/98- 1/1/99, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, on Thursday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1999', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., Pictured: Dick Clark, (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images)
Julia Stiles, Andres Gomez MTV New Year's Eve Party MTV Studios, Times Square, NYC December 31, 2000. (Photo by Patrick McMullan/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Revelers in Times Square in New York prepare to ring in the year 2001, 31 December 2000. Times Square is a traditional gathering site to bring in the new year, and this year's crowd is expected to reach 500,000. . AFP PHOTO Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
N362241 02: Crowds of people wave balloons as they continue to party at Times Square, New York City long after Times Square 2000 bash kicked off at 6:30 a.m. this morning, December 31, 1999--when New Year arrived in the South Pacific. One thousand workers and volunteers join 500 musicians, dancers and actors, and 160 oversized puppets, to entertain the crowd. The party will go on past six a.m. tomorrow morning after the midnight debut of the stunning Waterford Crystal ball. (photo by Chris Hondros/Liaison Agency)
Atmosphere during New Year's 2006 in New York City - Times Square Atmosphere at Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
Atmosphere during New Year's 2006 in New York City - Times Square Atmosphere at Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Michael Loccisano/FilmMagic)
Atmosphere during New Year's 2006 in New York City - Times Square Atmosphere at Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Atmosphere during New Year's 2006 in New York City - Times Square Atmosphere at Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011 - Celebrating the New Year in Times Square, the ABC Television Network presents Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011, Friday, December 31, 2010. The Backstreet Boys, Ke$ha, New Kids on the Block and Ryan Seacrest party in 2011. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011 - Celebrating the New Year in Times Square, the ABC Television Network presents Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011, Friday, December 31, 2010. The Backstreet Boys and New Kids on the Block team up performing live in New York City. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images) BACKSTREET BOYS, NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011 - 12/31/10 Celebrating the New Year in Times Square, the ABC Television Network presents Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011, Friday, December 31, 2010. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) DICK CLARK
Ryan Seacrest and Carrie Underwood speak during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve at Times Square on December 31, 2015 in New York City.
Revelers in Times Square wait for the ball to drop during New Year's Eve celebrations in New York, December 31, 2015. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Corbis via Getty Images)
DICK CLARKS NEW YEARS ROCKIN EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2018 Live performances from Times Square in the heart of New York City, are featured on Americas biggest celebration of the year, DICK CLARKS NEW YEARS ROCKIN EVE WITH RYAN SEACREST 2018, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images) RYAN SEACREST
Fireworks go off in Times Square to celebrate the New Year in New York City, New York, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A couple kisses while they celebrate the New Year in Times Square in Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky
Confetti falls in Times Square just after midnight during New Year celebrations in Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 1, 2018. REUTERS/Darren Ornitz
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When revelers rang in 2018, it was only 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 Celsius). For the dawn of 2019, rain poured throughout the evening, leaving puddles on the performance stages.

The weather seemed perfect Tuesday, until it wasn’t. Rain, which wasn’t in the forecast, briefly drenched the crowd just before 8:30 p.m.

Still, the celebration was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

“It was a dream, I wanted to do it so this year a lot of people helped me to get here so I’m here, and I’m thankful for that," said Mariemma Mejias, 48, who flew to New York for the festivities from San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Amanda Camacho, 25, from Heredia, Costa Rica, said she and her mother spent their evening in the security pens "talking to people and meeting people and sharing," Camacho said.

"We met people from Korea, we met people from Guatemala that were actually here just for New Year’s Eve, so it has been pretty cool,” she said.

While giddiness was expected to prevail at the televised event, some important global issues will be driven home, as well.

The Associated Press presented a news reel highlighting the most memorable events of 2019.

High school science teachers and students, spotlighting efforts to combat climate change, were to help press the button that begins the famous 60-second ball drop and countdown to 2020, followed by 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti.

Thousands of police officers were on hand for the festivities, plus more than 1,000 security cameras, helicopters and drones equipped with thermal-imaging and 3D-mapping capabilities and super-zoom lenses.

Christina Genovese and Jessica Vanich, friends from Buffalo, New York, said the security line was about 30 minutes long when they arrived at 10:30 a.m.

“It’s not as cold as Buffalo so we’re OK,” Genovese said.

Aubrey Fannin, who traveled from Kirkland, Washington, with her friend Kennedy Bryne, is optimistic for 2020.

"This is our year," Fannin said moments after the clock struck midnight. “This is the world's year. Let's do it.”

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