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Crowds cheer in the New Year at Times Square despite the cold

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Braving the bitter cold, thousands of revelers from across the globe flooded Times Square Wednesday to ring in the New Year at the biggest party in the world.


The buoyant throng of merrymakers exploded in cheers at the stroke of midnight as the ball touched down and a blizzard of confetti blanketed them from above, marking the end of a turbulent year.


"I couldn't be happier that 2008 is over," crowed Reginald Coleman, 29, of Berkely, Ill. "It's been a rough year financially and emotionally. I hope 2009 is better."


Even as wind chill temperatures plunged to 1 degree - one of the coldest Times Square ceremonies ever - enthusiasm prevailed among the crush of people, many of them tourists in brightly colored party hats and jumbo 2009 sunglasses, packing the Crossroads of the World.


"I wouldn't miss this for the world," Camila Leguizamon, 20, of Buenos Aires, said. "It's freezing outside, but I'm still really, really excited."


David Hubin, 23, drove from Columbus, Ohio, with four pals to see the city and ring in the new year.


"We were all on break from school and we decided the time was right for a road trip," said Hubin, who was in the thick of the crowd Wednesday night. "I've never seen anything like this.


Bill and Sen. Hillary Clinton joined Mayor Bloomberg in sending the 12,000-pound crystal ball perched atop 1 Times Square down its course.


"This is something you do once in your life," said Brian Arnone, 44, of Orlando, as he huddled next to his wife, Kelli.


LaDonna and Carlos Villareal, married soldiers who returned to the U.S. from Iraq in November, decided at the very last minute - Tuesday night - to make the trip to New York from Fort Riley, Kan.


"I can't feel my bottom lip, but I'm just so happy to be here," LaDonna Villareal, 23, said.


Ken and Lisa Mills traveled with their three teenage daughters from Ohio to New York to watch the ball drop in person for the first time.


But after a few hours of withstanding the fierce winds and bone-chilling cold, Lisa Mills, 44, was wondering if she could take any more of the elements.


"I'm wearing a sweater, coat, scarf and gloves and I still can't keep warm," Mills said.


Wearing oversize red and green 2009 glasses and layers of sweaters, her three daughters, Shelby, 17, Kendra, 18, and Kara, 16, cheered with the crowd as they battled to stay warm. "I hope to graduate from high school this year and hope all my friends graduate, too," Shelby said. Other revelers had equally modest goals.


Reflecting on their wish list for the new year, friends Soo Hyun Lee, 26 and Jewon Lee, 23, students from Korea, looked at each other. "We want to find boyfriends!" they said in unison.


"It's hard to find a good man in Korea," Soo Hyun Lee said.


Ryan Seacrest hosted the night's musical program, which included a rousing performance by the Jonas Brothers.


Taylor Patton, 17, and Cate Carl, 18, both from Middleton, Md., did not seem to notice the performers - or anybody else - as they waited for midnight.


Wrapped in a thick red blanket, Taylor and Cate stared into each other's eyes, oblivious to the excitement around them.


For the new year, more money, a new career or other life goals took a back seat to love, they agreed. "In the new year, we just want to be together," Taylor said.


Ashley Cormier, 16, and her friend Zoe Jourdain, 16, of Owings Mills, Md., also huddled together in the hours before the ball dropped. "I'm gonna stay in my blanket the whole night until I see a famous person, then I'm gonna come out," Ashley said.


And so she looked around and waited, and waited.




January 1st 2009



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I was on the brooklyn bridge with a few people. It was REALLY very bitterly cold, like no more than 18 degrees plus wind here and there. No wind on the bridge though.


- A

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