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Saturday, 1 January, 2000, 07:44 GMT
Celebrating at Times Square
Crowds gathered for millennium celebrations at Times Square
Crowds gathered for millennium celebrations at Times Square
By Jane Hughes in New York

New York, never a city for understatement, is proclaiming itself the millennium centre of the globe.

And though it may not quite have lived up to that description, its celebrations were certainly global and spectacular.

Into 2000
At midnight, 18 hours of pageants reflecting different parts of the world culminated in a multi-national millennial celebration.

Crowds estimated at up to one and a half million watched as a giant crystal globe, illuminated from within by almost 500 coloured bulbs, descended slowly down a pole atop a skyscraper at the south end of Times Square.

The Times Square ball dropped at midnight
Fireworks then exploded from the tops of the buildings in the area and laser beams lit up the sky, as more than three tons of confetti poured down on the revellers in a blizzard that was almost blinding.

The spectators stretched north and south down Broadway as far as the eye could see, waving so many balloons and glittering banners that the entire crowd appeared to shimmer beneath the neon signs.

Their cheers, competing with the music from the sound system and the crack of the fireworks combined to create a deafening sound.

Tight security

But the anxiety that terrorists might take advantage of the huge crowds to launch an attack was never far from the minds of the organisers.

Surveying the scene through 2000 glasses
Surveying the scene through 2000 glasses
Eight thousand police officers dressed in riot gear patrolled the area around Times Square, randomly searching people as they arrived at the square.

Thousands more were on duty across the rest of New York.

Police helicopters circled overhead, all police leave was cancelled, and a detailed rapid response plan was in place ready to swing into action in the event of any kind of incident.

But in the event, the celebrations went without a hitch, and the massive security operation did nothing to dampen the festive spirit.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Jane Hughes reports
"It's an explosion of sound, colour and light"
See also:

31 Dec 99 | In Depth
31 Dec 99 | Science/Nature
01 Jan 00 | UK
31 Dec 99 | Americas
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
31 Dec 99 | Asia-Pacific
Links to more Americas stories are at the foot of the page.


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