Bright lights of Times Square beckon, even on a frigid New Year's Eve

NEW YORK, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of merrymakers are making the annual pilgrimage to New York's Times Square on Sunday to witness the giant New Year's Eve ball drop at midnight, undeterred by bitter cold and an unprecedented security operation.

The temperature in midtown Manhattan is expected to plunge to about 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 12 degrees Celsius) in the waning hours of 2017, with a "Real Feel" of 4F (minus 15C), according to AccuWeather.com.

If forecasts prove accurate, 2017 would match 1962 as the second-coldest New Year's Eve on record. Top honors go to 1917, when the mercury in Times Square dropped to 1F (-17C) and the wind chill came in at -18F (-28C).

Madry Cox, 16, and his sister, Mattison, 19, traveled from Lubbock, Texas, to New York with their father for what he called a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to see the glittering spectacle that unfolds in Times Square every Dec. 31.

"It's worth bearing the cold to see the ball drop on New Year's Eve," he said. "It'll be great."

Mattison Cox said she plans on wearing plenty of clothes, while still managing to look "a little bit cute," and drinking coffee to stay warm.

RELATED: New Year's Eve in Times Square through the years

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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) 12/31/1926-New York, New York: Picture shows an aerial view of Times Square on New Year's Eve's.
(Original Caption) 1/31/1931-New York, NY: New Year's Eve crowds shown at Times Square, NYC.
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: New Year's Eve in Times Square. (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 12/31/1938-New York, NY-: As clocks, accompanied by whistles, sirens and other noise-making instruments, sounded the knell of 1938, this immense crowd in Times Square here gave vent to its feelings with a roaring acclaim for 1939. This picture was made as the midnight hour gave the signal for the wild celebration.
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: New Year's Eve is filled with people in Times Square (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
(Original Caption) GI's Among New Year Revelers. New York: These tooting GI's were among the thousands of soldiers who swelled the ranks of New Year's Eve celebrants on New York's famed Times Square. The first New Year's Eve since the end of the war saw an unprecedented number of revelers along New York's 'White Way.'
NEW YEARS EVE AT TIMES SQUARE -- Pictured: Crowds gather in Times Square to Celebrate the 1947 New Year -- Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank
1st January 1942: High-angle view of crowds gathering at midnight in Times Square for the ball dropping on New Year's Eve, New York City. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 1/1/1950-New York, NY- If the reception accorded the infant year 1950 at Times Square is any criterion, 'Happy Days Are Here Again.' Three-quarters of a million revelers jammed the crossroads of the world shouting their welcome. This scene was made overlooking the throngs from the marquee of the Paramount Building.
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)
(Original Caption) New York: Working It Out. It looks like New Year's Eve in Times Square except that the sun is shining and the star attraction is not the new year but rather the man that may become the new heavyweight champion of the world. Jerry Quarry, the challenger, held an open air workout June 16th in preparation for his June 23rd title fight with Joe Frazier at Madison Square Garden.
(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.
1952: Friendly revellers on New Year's Eve in Times Square, New York. In black and white book (Photo by Ernst Haas/Ernst Haas/Getty Images)
(Original Caption) 12/31/1939- New York, NY- New Year's Eve celebrants in front of the Astor Hotel in Times Square for the annual New Year's Eve celebration.
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1979 - 12/31/78 - 1/1/79, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, Sunday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1979', 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 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., Pictured: The Village People, (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
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 1981 - 12/31/80 - 1/1/81, Dick Clark (pictured) will lead America into the New Year, Wednesday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m. -1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1981', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., (Photo by Dennis Plehn/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1982 - 12/31/81 - 1/1/82, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, Thursday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1982', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., Pictured: Alabama, (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1982 - 12/31/81- 1/1/82, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, Thursday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1982', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., Pictured:, (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1984 - 12/31/83 - 1/1/84 Dick Clark (pictured) will lead America into the New Year, Saturday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.- 1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1984', 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 1989 - 12/31/88 - 1/1/89, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, Saturday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1989', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., Pictured: Taylor Dayne, (Photo by ABC Photo Archives/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1992 - 12/31/91 - 1/1/92, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, Tuesday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1992', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., Pictured: Shannen Doherty, Stephen Baldwin, (Photo by Bob D'Amico/ABC via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1993 - 12/31/92 - 1/1/93, 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 1993', 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 1994 - 12/31/93 - 1/1/94, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, Friday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1994', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., Pictured: Joey Lawrence, (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images)
Revelers celebrate the New Year in Times Square in New York City. (Photo by mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images)
A crowd of revelers celebrates New Year's Eve in Times Square at midnight. (Photo by mark peterson/Corbis via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 31: DICK CLARK'S NEW YEAR'S ROCKIN' EVE 1995 - 12/31/94 - 1/1/95, Dick Clark will lead America into the New Year, Saturday, Dec. 31 (11:35 p.m.-1:05 a.m., ET) on 'Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 1995', airing on the ABC Television Network. Clark will count down to midnight from Times Square in New York City., Pictured: Jon Secada, (Photo by Heidi Gutman/ABC via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES: Wearing glasses in the shape of the coming year, 1997, a New Yorker is surrounded by fellow confetti-waving celebrants after coming to Times Square to celebrate New Year's Eve 31 January. Despite temperatures in the low teens, the crowd was expected to reach 500,000. AFP PHOTO/Henny Ray ABRAMS (Photo credit should read HENNY RAY ABRAMS/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 30: Lighting technicians Brian Sperazza (l.) and Carlos Freire (r.) prepare the New Year's Eve ball in Times Square. (Photo by Susan Watts/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
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, 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., (Photo by Donna Svennevik/ABC via Getty Images)
360337 11: Traffic passes through 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 19: Traffic passes through 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 36: Traffic passes through 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)
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)
Christina Aguilera performing on 'MTV 2 Large' on New Year's Eve in MTV's Times Square studios, 12/31/99. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: Front page of the Daily News dated Jan 1, 2000, Headline: 2000!, Revelers welcome the new millenium during New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square., (Photo by NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
383777 03: People line up at the heart of Times Square while waiting for the ball to drop December 31, 2000 in New York City. Undaunted by cold temperatures and a record snowfall on Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people gathered in the crossroads of the world to watch New Year''s festivities. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Newsmakers)
Times Square during MTV New Year's Eve Bash 2001 at MTV Studios in Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, in New York, United States on January 01, 2002. (Photo by David LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, in New York, United States on January 01, 2002. (Photo by David LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 01: New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square, in New York, United States on January 01, 2002. (Photo by David LEFRANC/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 18: It's beginning to look a lot like New Year's Eve at 1 Times Square, where Kevin Andrel installs rigging on the 77-foot pole down which the famed Waterford crystal ball will descend at midnight on the eve of the new year. Another sign of the changing times, 2003, is already in place. (Photo by Susan Watts/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
New Year's Eve Times Square crowds during MTV's New Year's Pajama Party 2003 - Show at MTV Studios Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 30: The New Year's Eve Ball travels midway up the 77 foot tall flagpole atop 1 Times Square during the annual test December 30, 2003 in New York City. The ball will officially drop at the stroke of midnight, New Year's Eve as hundreds of thousands of people gathered in Times Square bring in 2004. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)
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The crowd gets ready for midnight in Times Square on New Year's Eve, Wednesday, December 31, 2003. Thousands of police officers, both in uniform and undercover, were deployed for the 99th year of the Times Square tradition. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: Revelers celebrate the coming of the new year at the New Years Eve party in Times Square on December 31, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Brad Barket/ Getty Images)
Hilarie Burton and Lindsay Lohan during MTV's 'Iced Out' New Year's Eve 2005 - Show at MTV Studios - Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/FilmMagic)
Atmosphere during New Year's Eve 2007 at Times Square at Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
New York, UNITED STATES: Revelers celebrate in Times Square New Year's Eve as they ring in the year 2007 at midnight by watching the famous ball drop from the flagpole atop One Times Square in New York, 01 January 2007. Hundreds of thousands of revellers packed into New York's Times Square to ring in 2007, braving heightened security to join in the traditional centrepiece of New Year celebrations in the United States. AFP PHOTO / Timothy A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
Visitors take a souvenir shot in front of the newly designed Times Square New Year's Eve Ball is lit as it is unveiled at Macy's department store in New York, 07 November 2007. The event marked the first time in the 100 year history of the New Year's Eve Ball descent that the public will be able to see the ball up close as the ball will stay on display at Macy's until 10 December. The newly designed ball features 672 crystal triangles lit with 9,576 LEDs to create an ever-changing light show. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
NBC NEWS -- Times Square New Year's Eve Celebration -- Pictured: Revelers welcome in the 2008 New Year in Times Square, New York, New York on December 31, 2007 (Photo by Curtis Means/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: (L to R) Former President Bill Clinton, Georgina Bloomberg, Diana Tayor, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Hillary Clinton lower the New Year's Eve ball at the New Year's Eve 2009 celebration in Times Square on December 31, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 31: A general view in Times Square during the New Year's Eve 2010 With Carson Daly in Times Square on December 31, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bobby Bank/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 30: The Times Square New Year's Eve Ball is tested the day before New Year's Eve December 30, 2010 in New York City. The 11,875-pound Waterford crystal ball will descend a 141-foot tall flagpole to mark the beginning of 2011. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: Singer Bruno Mars performs at the R Lounge New Year's Eve 2011 at the Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel on December 31, 2010 in New York City, New York. (Photo by Henry S. Dziekan III/WireImage for Renaissance New York Times Square Hotel)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 30: The Times Square New Year's Eve Ball is tested the day before New Year's Eve on December 30, 2011 in New York City. The 11,875-pound Waterford crystal ball will descend a 130-foot tall flagpole to mark the beginning of 2012. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Lady Gaga performs during the New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square December 31, 2011 in New York. AFP PHOTO/DON EMMERT (Photo credit should read DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: A general view of atmosphere during New Year's Eve 2012 in Times Square on December 31, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: A general view of atmosphere at New Year's Eve 2013 In Times Square at Times Square on December 31, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: Revelers gather in Times Square to celebrate New Year's Eve on December 31, 2012 in New York City. Approximately one million people are expected to ring in the new year in Times Square. (Photo by Monika Graff/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: Singer Taylor Swift performs during New Year's Eve 2013 In Times Square at Times Square on December 31, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 03: Exterior overview of the New Year's Eve Ball Relighting at One Times Square on January 3, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: Singer Miley Cyrus performs at Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2014 in Times Square on December 31, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: New York City rings in the new year with the ball dropping during The New Year's Eve 2014 Celebration in Times Square on December 31, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: Musician Taylor Swift performs during New Year's Eve 2015 in Times Square at Times Square on December 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: A general view of atmosphere at New Year's Eve 2015 in Times Square at Times Square on December 31, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Michael Stewart/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 15: The numerals '1' and '6,' to be used to spell out '2-0-1-6' during the Times Square New Years Eve celebration, are unveiled in Times Square on December 15, 2015 in New York City. The '2-0-1-6' are powered by 516 L.E.D. bulbs. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 29: Jeffrey Straus, President of Countdown Entertainment and Co-Producer of New Year's Eve and Tim Tompkins, President Times Square Alliance and Co-Producer of New Year's Eve take part in the confetti test as part of the run up to New Year's Eve 2016 celebrations In Times Square at the Hard Rock Cafe on December 29, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: Luke Bryan performs during Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve at Times Square on December 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: People celebrate while waiting for midnight in Times Square on December 31, 2015 in New York City. The New York City Police Department has deployed more than 6,000 officers in the Times Square area, including more than 1,100 officers who graduated from the police academy on Tuesday. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 31: New York Countdown during New Year's Eve celebrations at Times Square on December 31, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for TOSHIBA CORPORATION)
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"I've only seen it in the movies," she said. "It's nice to come witness in person."

This year, police expect roughly 2 million people to crowd into the general vicinity of Times Square, the bow-tie-shaped plaza formed by the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue in midtown Manhattan. That is roughly the same number as last year, when the temperature at midnight was a comfortable 44F (7C).

A limited number of people will have access to fenced-off viewing areas within the square, giving them an unobstructed view of the giant crystal ball mounted on a pole atop a building at the southern end of the square.

After hours of waiting, the throng will witness the ball's one-minute descent ending at the stroke of midnight, when a barrage of fireworks and confetti will punctuate the moment.

"This event every year, New Year's Eve, is one of the things that people all over the country, all over the world, most associate with New York City," Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters last week. He said the annual rite of winter was a source of pride for the city and "a huge, joyous event."

Revelers will count down the final hours of 2017 with a lineup of musical acts including Nick Jonas and Neil Diamond.

Mariah Carey is returning as well, no doubt hoping to make amends for last year's highly criticized performance marred by technical difficulties. Andy Grammer will perform his hit song "Fresh Eyes" and John Lennon's "Imagine" just before midnight.

Then comes the ball drop, a tradition that dates to 1907, three years after New Yorkers started gathering en masse in Times Square to usher in the new year.

The lighted ball, actually a geodesic sphere 12 feet (3.7 meters) in diameter and covered by illuminated crystals, will descend 70 feet (21 meters) in the final 60 seconds.

 

SHOW OF FORCE

Thousands of police will be on hand, some of them heavily armed, others undercover. The show of force is part of a beefed-up security plan that follows a spate of attacks in the city and around the world that authorities have labeled as terrorist.

The New York Police Department has provided officers with specialized training to stop any suicide bombers in response to an attempted bombing in a Times Square subway station walkway on Dec. 11.

Police will also deploy observation teams trained to spot snipers, increase the number of explosive-detecting dogs and position more officers throughout the area this year.

People who want to see the New Year's Eve musical acts and other entertainment up close in Times Square will have to pass by dogs trained to detect explosives and heavily armed officers, go through a magnetometer to check for weapons, have their bags inspected, and then repeat all those steps a second time.

Police will again use dump trucks filled with sand, police cars and cement blocks to close streets starting at 11 a.m. (1600 GMT) on Sunday. About 125 parking garages in the area will be emptied of all cars and sealed. (Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis)

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