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In Times Square, Hundreds of Thousands Gear Up for 2024

Crowds of revelers poured into Manhattan Sunday evening as New Year’s Eve festivities geared up against the backdrop of demonstrations over the Israel-Hamas war.

Near Times Square, where hundreds of thousands of people were expected to watch the ball drop, the police presence was heavier than usual for New Year’s Eve, with thousands of officers deployed and canine units and officers on horseback monitoring an expanded security zone. The police have said there have been no specific or credible threats to the city, but the F.B.I. has advised all law enforcement agencies to beef up security.

As midnight approached around the world, night skies filled with lights and fireworks, from Hong Kong to Bangkok to Dubai to Athens.

In New York, as dusk fell on Times Square, officers stood on every corner, scanning every entering reveler with metal-detecting wands. The crowd, including visitors from various corners of the globe, did not seem to mind.

Reyna Fermin, 47, visiting from the Dominican Republic, staked out a spot at 2 p.m. It was mild for a late-December day in New York, with temperatures in the low 40s, but Ms. Fermin was chilly under a jacket with a fur-lined hood, sweater, hoodie, hat and gloves. “We wait because we want to see,” she said.

Nearby were Christopher and Kayla Gross, a couple who had driven up from Baltimore. Asked what he thought 2024 might hold in store, Mr. Gross, 25, an entrepreneur, said, “Focusing on Jesus Christ — that’s the foundation for me and my wife.”

Thousands of police officers monitored Times Square Sunday evening.Credit…Gregg Vigliotti for The New York Times

South of Times Square, outside Macy’s department store, where the windows were still decorated for Christmas, a group called Ceasefire Carols repurposed holiday songs with Gaza-themed lyrics in one of several protests in Manhattan on New Year’s Eve.

“Safety for fathers, mothers and child / Holy infants alive with smiles,” they sang to the tune of “Silent Night.”

A small group of protesters entered the store and set off a smoke bomb, a law enforcement official said. One person was arrested on disorderly conduct charges at West 39th Street near Broadway, said the official, who spoke anonymously because the official was not authorized to speak to the press. New York has averaged about five protests a day since Oct. 7, when the war began.

All the demonstrations on Sunday were pro-Palestinian or in support of a cease-fire, but above the Invicta watch store at Times Square, an electronic billboard broadcast pro-Israel messages, including one demanding the release of hostages still held by Hamas and another reading “Hamas = Isis.”

A few blocks away, Sohail and Omer Alblooshi, two cousins who had traveled from the United Arab Emirates to watch the ball drop, sat on the ground and waited as the hours counted down.

“We are planning to have peace in every part of the world” in 2024, said Sohail, 33, who works in the oil industry. “This year has really been worse. We hope, inshallah, it will be better next year.”

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