A group of journalists will usher in the New Year Monday in New York City’s Times Square as the time-honored tradition of the annual ball drop recognizes journalism and free speech.
Leading American reporters and editors will be on stage just before midnight to push the button that begins the countdown to the New Year.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 53 journalists were killed on the job in 2018 and another 251 were imprisoned around the world.
In another first, New York police will use a drone to monitor the crowds. The camera-carrying drone will be added to the arsenal of more than 1,200 fixed video cameras that will be deployed by the police.
The security plan also includes road closures, thousands of uniformed and plainclothes officers, sharpshooters on rooftops of surrounding buildings and the sealing of manhole covers.
On Sunday, officials did a test run of the 544-kilogram ball sliding down a pole. This year’s ball will feature 2,688 crystal triangles and is backlit with LED lights capable of producing a number of colors and patterns.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the city expecting “up to 2 million people in Times Square itself” for the celebration.