- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2008

NEW YORK (AP) Times Square rang in the New Year last night with a new energy-efficient ball.

More than 1 million revelers jammed Midtown Manhattan for the 100th anniversary of the Times Square ball drop despite temperatures in the 30s. Performances by Miley Cyrus, Lenny Kravitz, Kid Rock and others kept the crowds entertained.

Milwaukee resident Jennelle Joset and her mother, Wanda Bowers, had been standing around since 1 p.m., wearing hats with big plastic wheels of cheese to show their Wisconsin pride.

“I had to do this once, to see it once before I die,” Mrs. Bowers said.

The first Times Square ball was an iron-and-wood contraption lighted with 100 25-watt incandescent bulbs, but the Waterford crystal-clad star of this year’s extravaganza was lit up with 9,576 tiny LEDs that organizers said would draw about as much electricity as 10 toasters. Philips Lighting, which made the light-emitting diodes, said they would be more than twice as bright as last year’s energy-hungry lights and are capable of generating more than 16 million colors.

A different sort of light show was set in Brooksville, Fla., where the ball was a 200-pound fiberglass tangerine, with light bulbs inside. And in downtown Miami, the Big Orange slowly climbed to the top of the Hotel Inter-Continental, followed by a laser and fireworks show.

About 1 million people were expected for the 32nd First Night celebration in Boston. The party lineup included a half-dozen ice sculptures across the city, each weighing 30 to 45 tons; performances by hundreds of artists; and a midnight fireworks display over Boston Harbor.

Authorities in several cities including Phoenix, Dallas and Detroit pleaded with residents not to ring in the new year by shooting bullets skyward. Emergency medical service technicians in New Orleans even donned combat helmets made from the same fiber used in bullet-resistant vests for the second straight year.

More than 300,000 people were expected to crowd the Las Vegas Strip and downtown resorts for the countdown to midnight. They were expected to spend more than $200 million in restaurants, theaters and clubs — with a big chunk of that going to the hefty door charge, usually about $250, at the Strip’s slick nightclubs.

Sleeping bags and folding chairs were already in place yesterday in Pasadena, Calif., at prime viewing spots for the 119th Rose Parade and its New Year’s Day floats and marching bands.

“Everyone is going on adrenaline,” said Larry Palmer, a spokesman for Phoenix Decorating Co., which built, designed and decorated 19 of the floats.

In New Hampshire, about 20 same-sex couples decided to be the first to take advantage of the state’s new civil-unions law with a midnight ceremony on the Statehouse steps in Concord. Snow and freezing temperatures greeted them.

“I don’t have any winter coats with rhinestones and glitter, so I’m just going to dress warmly,” said organizer and participant Jennifer Major of Gilmanton, N.H.

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