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Countdown to Times Square party; 1 million expected

Story Highlights

• NEW: More than million expected to crowd New York's Times Square
• NEW: Backpacks, large bags and alcohol will be prohibited in area
• Police helicopters will monitor for safety
• Performers include Christina Aguilera and Three 6 Mafia
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- A record 1 million revelers are expected to pack Times Square to ring in 2007, the Times Square Alliance said Sunday.

Predicted weather in the mid-40s is expected to draw more revelers than usual.

Performers will include Christina Aguilera, Three 6 Mafia, My Chemical Romance, Rascal Flatts, Panic at the Disco and "American Idol" star Chris Daughtry.

Though city officials are used to handling big crowds, they acknowledged that Sunday night's extravaganza poses special logistical and safety concerns.

Police will control access to Times Square, closing streets to vehicles beginning at 3:30 p.m.

Anyone wishing to enter the "core area" will be required to pass through metal detectors first, and then be corralled into viewing sections.

Once one section has filled, new arrivals will be directed to the next viewing section.

Backpacks, large bags and alcohol will be prohibited. There are also no public bathrooms in the "core area."

Regular police units will be supplemented by emergency service squads, drug- and bomb-sniffing canine units, counter-terrorism personnel and the FBI.

Representatives of New York's Office of Emergency Management and Fire Department will be in the square, and police in helicopters will monitor the skies and rooftops.

Last week, Mayor Bloomberg predicted to reporters that people would be "safer in Times Square on New Year's Eve than any place else."

At 6 p.m., the Times Square ball will be raised to the top of the 77-foot flagpole at One Times Square and illuminated.

At 11:59 p.m., the ball is to begin a 60-second descent to signal the start of the new year when it reaches the bottom.

The practice dates back to December 31, 1907 and has continued uninterrupted since then, except for 1942 and 1943 when a wartime requirement that lights be dimmed suspended the revelry.

In those two instances, the Times Square crowd celebrated with a minute of silence followed by the ringing of chimes.

The original New Year's Eve ball weighed 700 pounds and was 5 feet in diameter. It was made of iron and wood and was decorated with 100 25-watt light bulbs.

The 2007 ball, made by Waterford Crystal, weighs 1,070 pounds and is covered with 504 crystal triangles, 72 of which feature a new "Hope for Peace" design -- three dove-like patterns symbolizing messengers of peace.

The remaining 432 triangles feature designs from previous years, including the Hope for Fellowship, Hope for Wisdom, Hope for Unity, Hope for Courage, Hope for Healing, Hope for Abundance, and Star of Hope triangles.

This year, an unprecedented 3.5 tons of confetti will fall on the crowds.

Tourists from England share a laugh in Times Square on Sunday afternoon, as they begin the wait for the ball to drop.



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