Taylor Swift, crystal orb usher in 2015 in New York
NEW YORK - Agence France-Presse
US singer Taylor Swift performs during New Year's Eve celebrations at the Times Square in New York on December 31, 2014. AFP PhotoAs many as a million revelers braved frigid weather and poured into New York's Times Square for America's annual New Year party, which this year featured Taylor Swift.
Revelers in the Big Apple, wearing red traditional festive top hats, kissed and snapped selfies as a giant illuminated crystal ball slid down a pole, touching ground at precisely the stroke of midnight.
Times Square, known across the globe for its non-stop bustle, erupted in cheers and confetti as the nearly 12,000-pound (5,400-kilogram) ball, featuring 32,000 LED lights and 2,688 Waterford crystals, marked the final minute of 2014.
Almost 200 million Americans were expected to tune in for the moment, and organizers estimated it would eventually be seen by as many as one billion more people around the world.
TV celebrity Ryan Seacrest hosted a televised live show ahead of the countdown to 2015, and several musical acts including Taylor Swift and singer-songwriter Idina Menzel are set to perform.
The temperature was around freezing but wind chill made it feel several degrees cooler.
Ryo Koto, who had traveled for 30 hours from Fukuoka in Japan, was among the first to arrive in the square.
"We made it!" he told the New York Daily News, sporting an American flag across his shoulders and a pair of 2015 glasses. "First ones in! This is so awesome, so cool."
New York police officers were out in force, enforcing an alcohol ban and using bomb-sniffing dogs to check for potential threats.
The beleaguered New York Police Department has come under scrutiny in recent days after two of its own were shot dead in an ambush.
Some officers, fearing for their safety, have reportedly cut back on arresting people for minor offenses.
The man who killed the officers had said he was reacting to the high-profile police killings of unarmed African American men. Several such cases in 2014 sparked nationwide protests.
The police department has also been involved in a public spat with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio after he said he had urged his biracial son to take extra care when dealing with officers.