There was more to celebrate than the ball dropping in Times Square for Dick Clark - the personality who's been ringing in the New Year for decades made his first television appearance since a stroke in late 2004.
Clark, sitting behind a desk with a street scene in the background, sounded hoarse and occasionally was hard to understand, but he said, "I wouldn't have missed this for the world."
"It's real good to be back with you again this year," Clark, 76, once known for his perpetually youthful appearance, said in a halting, slightly hoarse voice as he came on the ABC program about 11:35 p.m.
"Last year I had a stroke," he explained. "It left me in bad shape. I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It's been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I'm getting there."
Clark introduced a musical performance by Mariah Carey.
After his December 6, 2004, stroke, Clark had to sit out "New Year's Rockin' Eve" last year for the first time since starting it in 1972. Regis Philbin was his emergency sub.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was among those welcoming back Clark.
"It just would not be New Year's Eve without Dick Clark," Bloomberg said on the ABC program moments before Clark's introduction. "I know I speak for all New Yorkers and all Americans - Dick, we love you.
"We're here for Dick Clark," Roger Travis, visiting with his daughter and son-in-law from Manchester, England, told local media. "We love him and we think this could be his last."
For others, there was just no other place to mark the end of 2005 and the start of 2006.
"This is the best place to be," said Challey Masters, 18, of Raleigh, Illinois, who came with members of a softball team and claimed a spot at 10 a.m. "It's one big party."
Clark, 76, declined interviews and television appearances as he rehabilitated, and his spokesman said the former "American Bandstand" host viewed New Year's as his personal coming-out party. Tabloid pictures of Clark using a cane or wheelchair led to questions about whether he was up to it.
He remained seated during "New Year's Rockin' Eve," his right hand resting on the desk and his left arm by his side. Clark counted down the seconds until the ball dropped. He stayed at his desk past 1 a.m. (local time) as the crowds thinned out.
ABC and Clark's production company this year made plans to keep the show alive when Clark can no longer do it, signing "American Idol" host Ryan Seacrest as his successor.