By COLLEEN LONG Associated Press Writer
The Associated Press
As the clock struck midnight, a ton of confetti rained down while the partygoers hugged and kissed.
Josh Torres and his girlfriend, Sarah Manganello, both 21, screamed and cheered as they watched the ball drop. Manganello had advice for people in the new year: "Learn from what you've done and move forward."
The wind chill made it feel like 1 degree in the area, but that didn't stop the throngs bundled in fur hats, heavy coats and sleeping bags from attending the event.
Former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Clinton helped Mayor Michael Bloomberg lower the ball atop 1 Times Square for the 60-second countdown to midnight. Last year, Hillary Clinton was in Iowa campaigning for the presidency, and now she's expecting to be secretary of state in President-elect Barack Obama's administration.
Many other New Year's Eve traditions around the country were in place, but some festivities fell victim to hard times, and those that remained felt somewhat subdued. The nation's economic troubles made many people less interested in giving 2008 an expensive send-off. Public celebrations were canceled in communities from Louisville, Ky., to Reno, Nev., and promoters in Miami Beach, Fla., reported slower ticket sales than expected for celebrity-studded parties that they say would have sold out in past years.
But New York's celebration was still going strong. Five minutes before midnight, 1,000 balloons with the words "Joy," "Hope" and "2009" were released from rooftops in the area. The Waterford crystal ball — 12 feet in diameter and weighing nearly 12,000 pounds — dropped as the crowd erupted in cheers.
Sam Tenorio and his family drove to New York from Orlando, Fla., so his teenage daughter Brianna could see the Jonas Brothers perform live in Times Square.