Pop stars Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber may help draw an estimated 1 million revelers to Times Square as New York City rings in the New Year with the ceremonial dropping of a 12-foot, illuminated crystal ball.
Event planners at the Times Square Alliance say crowds may fill avenues north to Central Park and south to 38th Street. At midnight, Lady Gaga, at Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s invitation, will press a button triggering the ball-drop, the focus of New York City’s year-end ritual since 1904.
“Lady Gaga is a great entertainer,” Bloomberg said yesterday in an interview on WOR radio. “I saw her perform once. She is a New York young lady.”
Gaga, 25, who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan as Stefani Joanne Germanotta, graduated from the Convent of the Sacred Heart high school and attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. The mayor and the entertainer joined forces this year to help push for the New York state law legalizing gay marriage.
Gaga and 17-year-old Bieber, both of whom will perform live on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC television broadcast of the event, may attract one of the youngest New Year’s Eve crowds ever, said Gia Storms, a spokeswoman for the Times Square Alliance.
Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the department will deploy “a counter-terrorism overlay” with sharpshooters on rooftops, surveillance cameras and regular officers augmented by 1,500 police academy graduates on their first assignment.
“This could be a record crowd,” Kelly told reporters during a news conference in Manhattan. “We’ll have thousands of police officers there.”
He said law-enforcement agencies had received “no specific threats against the city,” which has been the target of 14 terrorist plots since the Sept. 11 attack that destroyed the World Trade Center in 2001.
The New York forecast calls for a temperature of about 43 degrees Fahrenheit (6 degrees Celsius) and mostly clear skies at midnight, according to the National Weather Service.
Other scheduled events include fireworks displays in Central Park, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, and off Liberty Island in New York Harbor.
Crowd control around Times Square will begin with checkpoints at 16 entrances from 38th Street to 58th Street, between Sixth and Eighth Avenues, Kelly said.
Police will divide the crowd into pens demarcated by barricades. As in past years, anyone with alcohol or backpacks will be turned away, and revelers who leave their position won’t be readmitted, Kelly said.
Police deployments will be managed inside a Joint Operations Center staffed with representatives from federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies.
“It should be a pleasant time,” Kelly said.
The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.