With a sing-along and a party befitting Superman, hundreds of thousands of revelers gathered to watch the glimmering Times Square ball drop, heralding the arrival of 2003.
Actor Christopher Reeve joined hands with his wife, Dana, as she and Mayor Michael Bloomberg pressed a small globe and sent a 1,070-pound Waterford crystal ball on a 60-second descent that culminated at midnight to mark the new year.
The Tuesday night countdown came after a throng of 750,000 people — under tight security — rang wrist-mounted bells, waved pom-poms and joined voices in a giant sing-along of "All You Need Is Love" and the disco hit "Ring My Bell."
Under the watch of 2,000 police officers and rooftop sharpshooters, the huge crowd marked the 99th observance of the annual tradition in a blizzard of red, white and blue confetti.
"It's hard to take it all in," said Alex Melvin, 32, of Birmingham, England. "You see it on TV all the time, but you can't get a sense of how it is on television. The scope of the crowd is just enormous."
City crews set up Times Square metal-detector checkpoints, sealed manholes and removed nearby mailboxes. A 12-hour flight ban over the city kept pilots from flying below 2,000 feet.
Streets were closed to traffic in mid-afternoon to make room for party-goers like Karim Simmons, 35, of Queens, who arrived about 1:30 p.m., wearing gold-colored "2003" glasses.
"I wouldn't miss this for the world," said Simmons, who has attended the bash every year since 1996.