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Times Square crowd braves rain to bid wet welcome to 2019

(L-R) Donny Wahlberg, Danny Wood, Jordan Knight, Jonathan Knight and Joey McIntyre of New Kids on the Block perform on New Year's Eve on December 31, 2018 in Times Square, New York City. (Photo by Angela Weiss / AFP)ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images
New Kids on the Block Donnie Wahlberg, Jonathan Knight, Jordan Knight, Danny Wood, and Joey McIntyre splashed up puddles Monday while performing in rainy Times Square.

NEW YORK — Rain drops fell along with confetti as revelers rang in 2019 in Times Square, capping a soggy New Year’s Eve celebration that included Bebe Rexha’s stirring rendition of John Lennon’s ‘‘Imagine’’ just before midnight.

Crews used squeegees to remove water from the stages, but New Kids on the Block still splashed up puddles while performing their hit ‘‘Step by Step’’ on a giant set of steps.

At midnight, fireworks erupted over Times Square, couples kissed, families hugged, and ‘‘Auld Lang Syne’’ played over loud speakers.

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‘‘It was so awesome, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,’’ said Colleen Giambrone, 55, of New Jersey. ‘‘Totally worth it, rain and all.’’

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Some in the crowd kneeled on the soaked ground, with ponchos over their heads as puddles formed and they waited for performers, including Christina Aguilera, Snoop Dogg, Dan + Shay, and Bastille.

Veterans of the celebration said the rain wasn’t all that bad, considering last year was one of the coldest on record at 10 degrees. This year, the temperature was about 47 degrees as midnight struck.

‘‘We’re troupers. We got this,’’ said Nyia Williamson, 41, a self-described New Kids on the ‘‘Block Head’’ at the party for the 11th time.

The final countdown happened as a geodesic sphere — 12 feet in diameter, covered with 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles and lit by 32,256 LEDs — dropped down a pole. The numerals ‘‘2019’’ lit up at midnight accompanied by pyrotechnics and the release of 3,000 pounds of confetti.ASSOCIATED PRESS