For some, Times Square countdown begins early

December 31, 2011 - 4:15 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — The crowds are getting thicker in Times Square, hours in advance of the big New Year's Eve bash.

By 3 p.m., several thousand people were crammed into spectator pens ringed by barricades, enjoying warm weather despite an occasional drizzle.

Swarms of lighting and sound technicians were going over the stage in preparation for the media spectacle.

The event draws people from around the world. Lisa Nicol of Melbourne, Australia, says the event is an opportunity to think about something other than the global economy.

She says, "Everybody's suffering. That's why it's so beautiful to be here celebrating something with everybody,"

Meanwhile, Occupy Wall Street demonstrators were planning to ring in the new year at Zuccotti Park, the plaza they held for two months before police kicked them out in November.