Workers from city agencies that joined in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, along with New Orleans jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, will serve as the guests of honor at the annual New Year's Eve ba

Workers from city agencies that joined in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, along with New Orleans jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, will serve as the guests of honor at the annual New Year's Eve bash in Times Square.

Marsalis, who now serves as artistic director for Jazz at Lincoln Center, will join representatives of the city fire, police, correction and emergency management departments in pressing the button that will drop the ball at 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced.

"I am grateful to Mayor Bloomberg for giving me the opportunity to show that in this season of renewal, the people of the gulf region will rebuild and rejoice once again," said Marsalis, who organized one of the major fund-raising shows for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

"Higher Ground: Hurricane Relief Benefit Concert," a five-hour Jazz at Lincoln Center show on Sept. 17 featured Bette Midler, James Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Toni Morrison, Robert De Niro, Cassandra Wilson and host Laurence Fishburne.

Bloomberg, in making the announcement in Times Square, said the city workers would represent all New York residents who pitched in to help the residents of New Orleans.

"On New Year's Eve, we will honor not only the work of hundreds of police officers, firefighters, correction officers and emergency managers, but everyday New Yorkers who responded in the aftermath of Katrina," Bloomberg said.

Last year, then-Secretary of State Colin Powell was the guest of honor for the 100th anniversary of the gala. Past guests of honor have included Muhammad Ali and the late Christopher Reeve.

The New Year's Eve ball counts down the last 60 seconds of the year. The six-foot wide ball weighs roughly 1,070 pounds and is festooned with 504 crystal triangles.


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