US Preps For New Year

Times Square was awash in hopeful sentiments as it prepared to welcome hordes of New Year’s Eve revelers looking to cast off a rough year and cheer their way to something better in 2012.

For all of the holiday’s bittersweet potential, New York City always treats it like a big party – albeit one that, for a decade now, has taken place under the watchful eye of a massive security force.

Pessimism has no place on Broadway. Not this week, anyway. The masses of tourists who began streaming through the square Friday for a glimpse of the crystal-paneled ball that drops at midnight Saturday were there to kiss, pose for silly snapshots and gawk at the stages being prepared for performers like Lady Gagaand Justin Bieber. Glum wasn’t on the agenda, even for those whose 2011 ended on a sour note.

“2012 is going to be a better year. It has to be,” said Fred Franke, 53, who was visiting the city with his family even after losing his job in military logistics this month at a Honeywell International division in Jacksonville, Fla.

And here at the “Crossroads of the World,” reminders of a trying 2011 around the globe could be seen in the multi-national faces of awe-struck visitors.