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Whether you’re joining or avoiding NYC’s New Year’s Eve crowds, here’s what to know

Times Square’s iconic New Year’s Eve Ball has a new lighting display pattern: a bow tie.

On Wednesday, spectators previewed the revamped design, which was created in partnership with the Fontainebleau Las Vegas resort and casino. It’s a partial homage to Times Square itself, which was historically known as “the Bowtie” for the shape formed by the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue.

The giant, glittery sphere will be illuminated with the new pattern and rise back up its iconic pole after Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” is played just after it drops at midnight to ring in the new year. It’ll remain atop 1 Times Square for the next year alongside the 7-foot-tall 2024 numerals, which arrived last week.

But this isn’t the first time the ball has been redesigned. Since the first New Year’s Eve Ball lowering celebration in 1907, it has undergone seven revisions. Its very first iteration was a 700-pound ball made of iron and wood and covered in 100 light bulbs. Now, the ball is 12 feet in diameter and weighs nearly 12,000 pounds, and its surface is dotted with thousands of LED-covered crystal triangles capable of displaying over 16 million colors.

More than a billion people worldwide are expected to tune in and ring in the new year by watching the ball descend on Sunday, while thousands are set to gather for the in-person event in Times Square. Whether you plan to join the crowds or avoid them at all costs, here’s what to know about holiday-related street closures and transportation advisories, according to the Times Square Alliance and the MTA.

Starting at 4 a.m. Sunday:

  • Seventh Avenue from 42nd to 48th streets will be closed to vehicle traffic.
  • 43rd to 48th streets between Sixth and Eighth avenues will be closed to vehicle traffic.

Starting at 11 a.m. Sunday:

  • Seventh Avenue and Broadway from 38th to 59th streets will be closed to traffic.

Pedestrians can enter viewing areas at the following access points:

  • 49th Street from Sixth and Eighth avenues
  • 52nd Street from Sixth and Eighth avenues
  • 56th Street from Sixth and Eighth avenues

Subways and buses:

  • Street-level exits at the Times Square-42nd Street station will be subject to closure on New Year’s Eve. The MTA recommends exiting through the Port Authority or Bryant Park passageways instead, but added that the Bryant Park passageway would be restricted to eastbound customers after 2 p.m. on Sunday.
  • Some entrances and exits at the 42nd Street-Bryant Park, Fifth Avenue-53rd Street, Seventh Avenue-53rd Street, 57th Street-Seventh Avenue and 59th Street-Columbus Circle stations may be closed.
  • The N, Q and R trains will skip 49th Street in both directions from Sunday morning until 12:15 a.m. on Monday.
  • Trains will run more frequently along the Times Square shuttle and the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, C, D, L N, Q and R lines. All other lines will run on a Sunday schedule.
  • Buses will run on a Sunday schedule on both Sunday and Monday.

Commuter rail:

  • The Long Island Rail Road will run on a weekend schedule on Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. On Dec. 31, extra trains to Manhattan will run on the Babylon, Montauk, Port Jefferson, Port Washington and Ronkonkoma branches during the evening. Between midnight and 4 a.m. on Jan. 1, extra trains will be running along those branches as well as the Long Beach branch from Penn Station and Grand Central.
  • The Metro-North Railroad’s Hudson, Harlem and New Haven lines will run on a Sunday schedule on Dec. 31. On Jan. 1, the lines will operate on a special schedule with hourly service at most stations.

The NYPD is also expected to beef up patrols and security. In remarks to reporters on Tuesday, Mayor Eric Adams said safety was always a serious concern on New Year’s Eve, and alluded to the possibility of protests taking place in and around this year’s festivities.

“There was an attempt to disrupt the tree lighting, and we’re sure that there’s going to be some type of attempt this year to use that stage for some other concerns that people are having,” Adams said, referring to a pro-Palestinian demonstration that took place at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting in November.

Officials noted last week that roughly 450 demonstrations related to the Israel-Hamas war have taken place in New York City since the conflict broke out on Oct. 7. So far, the NYPD has not reported that there are any credible threats to the city for New Year’s Eve.

“You just have to be ready for those unpredictable circumstances,” Adams said on Tuesday. “It’s a real herculean task to manage that number of people without being heavy handed but being protective.”

The Times Square Alliance advises ball drop attendees that all bags will be searched and backpacks, large bags, umbrellas, lawn and folding chairs, picnic blankets, large coolers, and alcohol are not permitted. Police also plan to crack down on drunk driving and speeding on roadways around the city.

Partly cloudy weather is expected on Sunday and Monday. The celebration begins shortly before 6 p.m. on Sunday and lasts into midnight. Entrance to the viewing areas is on a first-come, first-served basis.

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