New York City welcomed 2024 with its iconic ball drop ceremony at Times Square, but the celebrations were marred by pro-Palestinian protests, violent clashes, and heightened security measures amid the ongoing war in the Middle East. However, there were also some positive stories that emerged from the night, such as a lottery winner’s generous gift and a surprise performance by a famous singer.
Celebrations and Events at Times Square on New Year’s Eve 2024
- Ball drop ceremony: The highlight of the night was the traditional ball drop, which marked the end of 2023 and the beginning of 2024. The ball, which weighs nearly 12,000 pounds and is covered with 2,688 crystal triangles, descended from a 141-foot pole atop One Times Square. The ball drop was accompanied by a dazzling fireworks display and confetti shower, as well as the singing of “Auld Lang Syne” by the crowd of about one million people.
- Crowd of revelers: Despite the cold weather and the security threats, many people flocked to Times Square to witness the ball drop in person. Some arrived as early as 8 a.m. to secure a spot, and endured hours of waiting, metal detectors, bag checks, and police barricades. They also wore colorful hats, glasses, and masks, and waved flags and banners to show their enthusiasm. Some came from other states or countries, while others were locals who wanted to experience the event at least once in their lives.
- Other festivities: Before the ball drop, there were several performances by popular artists, such as Flo Rida, Paul Anka, Megan Thee Stallion, Tyla, Sabrina Carpenter, Jelly Roll, Maria Becerra, and Yng Lvcas. There were also special appearances by celebrities, such as Ryan Seacrest, Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen, and Piers Morgan, who hosted different TV specials from Times Square. Additionally, there were some cultural and social events, such as the Good Riddance Day, where people shredded their bad memories of 2023, and the Wishing Wall, where people wrote their hopes and dreams for 2024.
Incidents and News Headlines After 2024 Ball Drop
- Pro-Palestinian protests: Not everyone was in a festive mood at Times Square, as hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters marched to denounce the Israeli attacks on Gaza and the US support for Israel. They chanted slogans such as “Free Palestine” and “Stop the genocide”, and carried signs and flags to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people. They also tried to disrupt the celebrations by setting off smoke bombs at Macy’s and attempting to force their way into the World Trade Center. The police intervened and arrested several protesters for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
- Violent altercations: The protests also sparked some violent confrontations between the pro-Palestinian and pro-Israeli groups, as well as between the protesters and the police. Some videos showed people throwing punches, bottles, and chairs at each other, while others showed police officers using pepper spray, batons, and handcuffs to subdue the unruly crowd. There were also reports of stabbings, shootings, and robberies in the vicinity of Times Square, which added to the chaos and fear.
- Positive stories: Despite the negative incidents, there were also some positive stories that emerged from the night. One of them was a lottery winner who decided to share his $10 million prize with his family, friends, and charity. He said he bought the ticket on a whim at a gas station, and was shocked when he found out he won. He said he wanted to use the money to help others and make a difference in the world. Another positive story was a surprise performance by a famous singer, who appeared on stage after the ball drop and sang a medley of her hits. She said she wanted to give the people a gift and a message of hope for 2024.
Worldwide New Year’s Eve Celebrations
- Highlights from other countries: New York was not the only city that celebrated the new year with fireworks and festivities. Other cities around the world also put on spectacular shows and events to welcome 2024. Some of the highlights were:
- Paris: The French capital lit up the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées with fireworks and projections, while the Eiffel Tower displayed the number 2024 to mark the upcoming Olympics. President Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech in which he said the Olympics would bring France a 2024 full of “pride” and “hope”.
- Dubai: The Emirati city dazzled the world with its fireworks, LED shows, and waterworks at the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building. The show lasted for 10 minutes and featured a countdown, a tribute to the UAE’s achievements, and a wish for peace and prosperity.
- Sydney: The Australian city kicked off the global celebrations with its two fireworks displays, one at 9 p.m. and one at midnight. The displays featured more than 100,000 pyrotechnics and 35,000 shooting comets, and were synchronized with music and Aboriginal storytelling. The theme of the show was “Reconnect”, which reflected the city’s recovery from the pandemic and the bushfires.
- How different locations welcomed the new year: Different locations around the world also had their own unique ways of welcoming the new year, depending on their culture, tradition, and preference. Some of the examples were:
- London: The British capital canceled its usual fireworks display due to the pandemic, and instead opted for a drone show that formed various shapes and symbols in the sky, such as a dove, a heart, and a globe. The show also paid tribute to the National Health Service and the key workers who fought against the virus.
- Rio de Janeiro: The Brazilian city also canceled its famous Copacabana beach party and fireworks display due to the pandemic, and instead encouraged people to watch a virtual show online or on TV. The show featured musical performances, cultural presentations, and messages of hope and resilience.
- Tokyo: The Japanese capital had a subdued celebration due to the pandemic and the recent volcanic eruption, and urged people to stay home and avoid crowds. However, some people still visited temples and shrines to pray for good fortune and health, while others watched the first sunrise of the year from their balconies or rooftops.
Security Measures and Preparations for New Year’s Eve
- Increased police presence: One of the main security measures for New Year’s Eve was the increased police presence in major cities, especially in New York, where the threat level was high due to the war in the Middle East. The NYPD deployed more than 10,000 officers, some of them armed with long guns and bomb-sniffing dogs, to patrol the streets and subways. The police also set up checkpoints, barricades, and metal detectors to prevent any unauthorized access or suspicious activity.
- Use of drones for safety: Another security measure was the use of drones for safety and surveillance purposes. The NYPD used drones for the first time to monitor the crowd and the traffic at Times Square, and to provide a bird’s eye view of the situation. The drones were equipped with cameras, lights, and speakers, and were controlled by specially trained officers. The police said the drones were a useful tool to enhance public safety and security.
- Changes in security measures: Due to the changing nature of the security threats, some of the security measures were also changed or adjusted accordingly. For example, the NYPD banned large backpacks, umbrellas, and coolers from Times Square, and advised people not to bring any unnecessary items. The police also increased their coordination and communication with other agencies, such as the FBI, the state police, and the national guard, to share information and resources. The police also asked the public to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity or behavior.
New Year’s Eve 2024 was a night of mixed emotions for many people, as they celebrated the end of a challenging year and the start of a hopeful one. While some enjoyed the fireworks and festivities, others faced protests and violence. While some shared their joy and gratitude, others expressed their anger and frustration. While some welcomed the new year with optimism and enthusiasm, others greeted it with caution and concern. However, despite the differences and difficulties, the common thread that united everyone was the desire for a better and brighter 2024.