A crew from Ecuador arrived at 2:30 in the morning. A pair of best friends from Georgia got there at the very specific 5:40 a.m. They came from Pakistan and Australia, Tennessee and Chicago, Mexico and Japan, California and Indiana, dozens of other cities and towns and countries all over the planet—nearly two million of them, if estimates prove to be accurate—to celebrate the coming of 2017 in the area most of us here shun year-round: Times Square.
As promised, the NYPD was out in force, with DSNY dump truck barriers, thousands of uniformed officers, and TSA-style checks on anyone entering the viewing pens. No chairs were allowed inside the pens, nor unsealed liquids, nor backpacks, nor umbrellas. There's also no reentry once a pen becomes filled, so there's no way for any of these friendly folks to pee for the next, oh, 14 hours or so.
Basically, you could sit on the concrete (some brought blankets), and eat snacks (which many in the crowd were unprepared for, so Dominos hoped to cash in on their desperation with wandering pizza sellers), and wait for the party to start in earnest at around 10:30 tonight. It's probably no coincidence that most of the folks here in the late morning were Times Square New Year's Eve rookies, though one native New Yorker said he'd been coming every year since the early 1990s.