Merrymakers tossed confetti, squawked horns and popped Champagne corks, and orchestras dusted off the sheet music for another rendition of "Auld Lang Syne" this morning to ring in 1990 and a new decade.
New York City's nationally televised ball of lights that slid down a pillar high above Times Square to count off the waning year's last seconds had a few rivals this time from such places as Seattle, Houston and Atlanta.
Police estimated 200,000 revelers ignored daylong rain and packed Times Square, chanting in unison to count down the last seconds of the 1980s as they watched the lighted ball fall, just as it has most New Year's Eves since 1907.
Nationwide, taxi companies geared up to give free rides home to New Year's Eve revelers who over-imbibed.
The countdown Sunday night had an extra "leap second" to keep the world's clocks in time with the rotation of the planet.
Because New Year's Eve fell on a Sunday, some nightspots around the country couldn't serve drinks.
But in Indiana, while taverns lacking Sunday liquor licenses were closed, restaurants and private clubs had special permission from the Legislature to stay open until 3 a.m. instead of the usual 12:30 a.m. Sunday closing time.
In Seattle, organizers expected 15,000 people to turn out to watch one of the outside elevator cars on the Space Needle ascend, reaching the top in a blaze of 6,500 lights.
In Houston, a 20-foot Texas Lone Star was rigged to rise up the side of the Texas Commerce Tower and arrive at the top at midnight to the accompaniment of a fireworks display choreographed to music. As many as 50,000 people were expected to watch from Houston's Market Square.
Not to be outdone, folks in Atlanta built a 6-foot-wide foam and fiberglass Georgia peach and dropped it from a light tower at midnight at the Underground Atlanta mall. Police estimated at least 80,000 revelers jammed into the mall.
They were mere neighborhood gatherings compared to the screaming crowd in New York's Times Square. The police assigned more than 2,700 officers, many wearing riot helmets, to the area from Sunday evening to 4:30 a.m. today.
In Miami, Chubby Checker exhorted "Feel good! Let it go! Lose control!" Sunday night as tens of thousands of people lining downtown Miami streets cheered, oohed and danced to the 56th annual King Orange Jamboree Parade.
Cab companies in Indiana got ready for one of the busiest nights of the year. "It's mass chaos," said John McNeely, owner of Bloomington's Yellow Cab Co. "It's busy from the time it starts to the time it ends."