NEW YORK, Jan. 1 (Xinhua) -- The New Year's Eve celebration in New York's landmark Times Square officially kicked off at 6 p.m.(2150 GMT) on Sunday, with a performance of traditional Chinese dragon dance.
A colorful 15-meter-long Tongliang Dragon, named after Tongliang District of southwest China's Chongqing City, jumped, rolled and hovered under control of eight performers. Accompanied by traditional folk songs originated from Chongqing, the dragon rods were like paddles quickly swiping with the increasingly strong rhythm.
"The dance was amazing and it really makes me curious about this part of China," said Tim Tompkins, President of the Times Square Alliance.
He added that people were lucky to be able to watch performances from different parts of China in the past years and learn about "the richness and the history of Chinese culture which is so much longer than what we have in the United States."
The performance was applauded by revelers on the streets, who were wearing red scarves printed with "Happy New Year 2018" and "Chongqing China," giving this year's celebration a special touch of Chinese red.
Following the dragon dance, various performances would go on to lift spirit as this year's performers included Mariah Carey, Nick Jonas, Camila Cabello and Sugarland.
The annual New Year's Eve celebration in Times Square is most known for its ball drop. The ball descends in 150 seconds down a specially designed flagpole, beginning at 11:59 p.m. (0459 GMT, Jan. 1) and resting at midnight to signal the start of the next year.
Some of the revelers came to Times Square as early as 11:00 a.m. on Sunday to secure a good position to watch the ball drop.
Raul Revelo, who arrived at 12:00 o'clock, has been coming to New York city from Washington, D.C. every year since 2010.
"I love everyone's energy. Everyone is so happy and positive. With the music and the lights everything just gets so exciting," said Revelo.
An estimate of half to one million people would join the celebration this year, according to Tompkins. The number was smaller than last year's largely because of the cold snap that has struck the east part of the country.
The temperature could drop down to -12 degrees Celsius at midnight.
"It's the coldest New Year's Eve in eight years. I usually just have many layers on but this time I brought warmers," said Revelo.
In addition to advising people who join the celebration to dress warm, the city police also enhanced security measures.
Police have said they are adding additional security to the outer perimeter of Times Square to ensure those waiting to enter screening areas will be protected from moving vehicles.
Additionally, the police department and its law enforcement partners are increasing the number of observation posts throughout Times Square in order to monitor elevated vantage points.
"I feel super safe with the amount of security we have to go through," said Sydni Jussila, who travelled from Cleveland to join the celebration.She added that she felt protected to see the large number of police officers and dogs constantly taking patrols.