Times Square Hosts Record Crowds, Surprise Kisses, and a Big Cleanup

Officials estimate between 1.5 to 2 million people gathered around Times Square to celebrate the new year.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Partying in Times Square, 2011.

    Officials estimate between 1.5 to 2 million people gathered around the time square area to watch the ball drop on New Year's Eve -- a number that may have topped previous record-breaking crowd estimates.

    Some revelers, wearing party hats and "2012" glasses, began camping out Saturday morning, even as workers readied bags stuffed with hundreds of balloons and technicians put colored filters on klieg lights. The crowds cheered as workers lit the crystal-paneled ball that would drop at midnight Saturday and put it through a test run, 400 feet above the street. The sphere, decorated with 3,000 Waterford crystal triangles, has been dropping to mark the new year since 1907, long before television made it a U.S. tradition.
    In Times Square, people crammed into spectators pens ringed by barricades, enjoying surprisingly warm weather for the Northeast. The National Weather Service said it was about 49 degrees in nearby Central Park -- about 10 degrees warmer than the normal high temperature.
    Dick Clark, who suffered a stroke in 2004, made a few brief appearances hosting his namesake New Year's Eve celebration. He introduced Lady Gaga, who performed along with. Justin Bieber and Cee-Lo.
    Mayor Bloomberg and Lady Gaga led the crowd in a countdown to 2012, and the singer surprised everybody -- but especially Hizzoner -- when she kissed Bloomberg on the lips after midnight. 
    Rockin' New Year's Eve correspondent Jenny McCarthy planted a kiss on one of the city's finest, kissing the "hot cop" who happened to be standing next to her. 
    The police officer said McCarthy's kiss was a "10."
    After the streets cleared out, the Sanitation Department began their cleanup.
    A Department spokesman said 149 workers converged on Times Square, using 22 trucks, 24 mechanical sweepers and 37 backpack blowers to clear and estimated 40 to 50 tons of confetti, party hats and other remainders of the revelry.