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The carousel horses have pranced around in circles, the bounce houses are installed and the New Year’s Eve ball drop has been tested.

The City of Buffalo is ready for New Year’s Eve.

“This year, just like every New Year’s Eve, we expect thousands of revelers in downtown Buffalo, and we are looking forward to a safe, fun and exciting time downtown,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown. “There are a lot of great events, and whether it is First Night for families and children at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center to the ball drop where we will ring in the New Year, this promises to be a great event.”

(Watch Brian Meyer’s chat with Carrie Meyer, executive director of the Independent Health Foundation, about the highlights and new attractions of this year’s First Night - video.)

Thousands are expected to converge, once again, on the family-friendly and drug- and alcohol-free First Night Buffalo, and to gather later for the countdown outside the Electric Tower, a half-mile away.

The events at the Convention Center, 153 Franklin St., will run from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Parking will be free at Main Place Mall and the Fernbach Ramp, while Metro Rail will be extended two additional hours, with the last train scheduled to leave Erie Canal Harbor Station, heading outbound at 2 a.m. Tuesday.

Tickets for the event, whose primary sponsor is Independent Health Foundation, are $10 and free for kids 2 and younger. They also are available for $8 in advance at Wegmans. For more information on events and parking, visit www.firstnightbuffalo.org, or call 635-4959.

Music will get started outside the Electric Tower, 535 Washington St., in Roosevelt Square, at 10:30 p.m. with Caitlin Koch & the Jamie Moses Band. The ball drop at the free event, sponsored by Frey Electric Co. and produced by the Police Athletic League of Buffalo, will be televised live, with fireworks lighting the sky to the sounds of classic rock on 97 Rock.

Paul Iskalo of Iskalo Development, which owns the building, was on hand for the ball-drop test. Iskalo said the ball will be more colorful this year and “greener,” with the switch to energy-efficient LED lights.

The mayor said there will also be, as usual for New Year’s Eve events, enhanced security.

“There will be extensive police support to make sure all of the revelers have a great time. We will also have our skywatch unit, which we previewed a few weeks ago, that is similar to what is used in New York City for their ball drop,” Brown said.

“So we will have a good complement of police officers there, and this will be a wonderful, safe event in downtown Buffalo.”

Also, there will be skating at nearby Rotary Rink, which Buffalo Place will operate through 12:30 a.m.

First Night Buffalo events include:

• Toddler Zone: Children 6 and younger can explore playhouses and mini bounce houses, learn dance moves and listen to storybook characters such as Skippyjon Jones, Wild Thing and Franny K. Stein. (Room 101C).

• Laser tag: Children 6 and older can play the high-tech game of hide-and-seek. (Room 106).

• Scavenger hunt: A list in the event guide lets kids earn prizes. (Main Event Level, upstairs).

• Amusement rides and activities: The Octopus, musical swings, bounce house and rock wall, for kids of all ages. (Main Exhibit Level).

• Art and poetry gallery, with 600 works by local students, and health screenings for checking cholesterol, blood pressure and percentage of body fat. (Main Exhibit Level and Room 102.)

Several shows, each performed twice, will also be held:

• Skyhunters: Birds of Prey – Owls, hawks and eagles. (5 and 7 p.m., Room 101A).

• Bubblemania: Amazing things created with bubbles. (6 and 8 p.m., Room 101A).

• Wacky Chad: Comedy, stunts and improv, using pogo sticks, unicycles, cigar boxes, a shopping cart and more. (5:15 and 7:15 p.m.; 9:45 p.m. grand finale, Main Stage)

• The Red Trouser Show: Acrobatics and knife and fire juggling. (6 and 8 p.m., Main Stage))

• Nels Ross: Variety show blending comedy, stunts and audience participation. (5 and 7 p.m., Center Banquet Room).

• Wade Live: Magic show with music, animals, comedy and theatrics. (6 and 8 p.m., Center Banquet Room).

• Terry Buchwald as Elvis: The return of popular Elvis impersonator (5:30 and 7:30 p.m., Music Stage).

email: msommer@buffnews.com