NEW YORK – Not even a fractured foot could keep Ryan Visto from joining more than a million revelers in Times Square to watch the symbolic sphere make its 100th descent into the new year.
The 18-year-old visitor from San Francisco had taken a tumble on his skateboard in Central Park and landed in the hospital. His family decided the mishap wasn't going to stop them from missing the city's biggest New Year's Eve party.
"They wanted to keep him for surgery," said Sheena Visto, his mother. "But I told them to throw a cast on and do surgery later. We had to come."
So the family — with Ryan sitting in a wheelchair borrowed from the hospital — merged with the masses who counted down the new year as a ton of confetti rained down on the urban canyon.
University of North Carolina junior Reid Medlin, 21, and a couple of his friends arrived for the party without hotel reservations and planned to stay up all night.
"I think the best part is being here with friends," he said as people in the crowd kissed. "This was beautiful. It makes you appreciate everything."
Organizers said well over a million people attended the festivities.
The Times Square tradition of dropping the new year's ball began a century ago with a 700-pound ball of wood and iron, lit with 100 25-watt incandescent bulbs. This year's event featured an energy-efficient sphere clad in Waterford crystals, with 9,576 light-emitting diodes that generated a kaleidoscope of colors.
The entertainment lineup included Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest handling the countdown to 2008 and musical performances by Carrie Underwood and Miley Cyrus. Even New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez showed up, shaking hands and posing for photos.
A different sort of ball-drop was planned in Brooksville, Fla., north of Tampa, where a 200-pound fiberglass tangerine would ring in the new year. And in downtown Miami, the Big Orange was to slowly climb to the top of the Hotel Inter-Continental, followed by a laser and fireworks show.
About a million people were expected for the 32nd First Night celebration in Boston. The event included a half-dozen ice sculptures, each weighing 30 to 45 tons, performances by hundreds of artists, and a midnight fireworks display over Boston Harbor.
Authorities in several cities, including Phoenix, Dallas and Detroit, pleaded with residents not to celebrate by firing guns skyward. Emergency Medical Service technicians in New Orleans planned to don combat helmets made from the same fiber used in bullet-resistant vests.
The Chicago Transit Authority continued its New Year's Eve tradition of offering penny fares on buses and trains as thousands were expected to head to the city's fireworks shows on Navy Pier. Philadelphia also had a huge fireworks display planned, with 4,000 fireworks shells scheduled to explode over the Delaware River.
In Pasadena, Calif., thousands of spectators reveled and some even slept on sidewalks as they anticipated the Rose Parade. Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse will serve as grand marshal of the floral extravaganza with the theme "Passport to the World's Celebrations." The parade also features 21 marching bands and 18 equestrian units.
Police kept a close eye on the crowd, which continued to celebrate despite winds and temperatures in the 40s — cold for Southern California. Jim Colligan, 47, of La Crescenta said he has been camping out at the parade for 14 years with his barbecue and heating lamp.
"We open the barbecue up to everyone. This is my Christmas, this is my time to give," Colligan said.
Revelers took to the Las Vegas Strip to watch more than 30,000 effects rocket from the rooftops of seven casinos. The eruption of light and color was choreographed to a playlist of pop music, country hits and, of course, crooner Dean Martin.
More than 300,000 people were expected to crowd the Strip and downtown resorts for the countdown to midnight. They were expected to spend more than $200 million in restaurants, theaters and clubs — with a big chunk of that going to the hefty door charge, usually around $250, at the Strip's slick nightclubs.
For that much money, patrons could see pop star Avril Lavigne, booked to host the party at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. The LAX Night Club in the Luxor casino scored both Hilton sisters — Nicky and Paris — for its bash.
"It's a party city. It's wild out here!" said Stephanie Smith, 21, of West Covina, Calif., as her friends polished off yard-long margaritas and walked the sidewalk outside the Wynn Las Vegas resort.
By the time the West Coast partied, New York City sanitation crews had already taken control of Times Square. Most of the crowd had dispersed by 12:25 a.m. Tuesday and workers cleared up the confetti, plastic cups, gold streamers, water bottles and other party errata left behind by the revelers.
"It's amazing how much garbage people leave," said Brian Hawkes, visiting from Birmingham, England. "I wouldn't want this job to clean up after them."