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Preparations in place as Las Vegas readies to ring in the New Year — MAP

The party’s on for tonight, so everybody be careful out there.

The New Year’s Eve celebration that kisses 2015 goodbye and welcomes in 2016 will play out on a cold, crisp night in the city’s resort corridor.

Four miles of Las Vegas Boulevard, between Sahara Avenue and Mandalay Bay Road, will be closed to vehicles starting at about 6:30 p.m., and downtown’s Fremont Street Experience will open at 6 p.m. to holders of $40 admission tickets.

More than 300,000 people are expected to be in town for the celebration, which Yahoo is calling the best New Year’s Eve event in the world and dozens of other travel and tourism sources list in their top 10.

With recent terrorist attacks in Paris and in San Bernardino, Calif., and a car crash on the Strip that killed a woman and sent 35 people to the hospital fresh on the jittery populace’s mind, tonight’s police presence will be larger than ever.

The Metropolitan Police Department promised nearly 1,000 uniformed and plainclothes officers along the Strip and about 300 more downtown.

Police are asking revelers not to bring bags or strollers into the crowd and are getting the word out through the resorts.

Sheriff Joe Lombardo said Monday that no credible threats have been made in association with New Year’s Eve, but his department has seen a 300 percent increase in “suspicious activity” in recent months.

The bag ban could put a damper on people who want to bring extra blankets or coats to the Strip party, where temperatures are expected to drop to the mid-30s at night.

There’s little chance of rain, and meteorologists say the wind should stay below 10 mph, the threshold wind speed for the midnight fireworks display coordinated from the rooftops of seven resort properties.

People in the crowd will likely be scrambling for the best places to view the fireworks in the hour leading up to the program.

Some of the best places are already staked out. One of those is from the 550-foot High Roller observation wheel attraction, where a ticket is going for $250 just before midnight, or an entire private cabin for $7,500.

That $250 ticket won’t be the most expensive seat for the show. Sundance Helicopters is offering flights above the fireworks for $499.

Veteran Las Vegas New Year’s Eve watchers say they enjoy the view of the Strip from the high elevations that ring the valley. Sunrise Mountain to the east, Black Mountain and Seven Hills to the south, Summerlin to the west and the 215 Beltway to the north are common viewing sites.

Others suggested towers along the Strip or downtown, including resort parking garage structures.

While many revelers will be outside, the Strip’s clubs and resorts will be popular party sites. Among the celebrity performers scheduled this year are Maroon 5 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, Bruno Mars at The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan and Slash at the House of Blues.

Other headliners: Calvin Harris (Omnia), Diplo (Surrender Nightclub), Tiesto (Hakkasan), Alesso (XS Encore), Pretty Lights (Brooklyn Bowl) and dancing to DJ sets by Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy (Vanity), Fetty Wap (Marquee), Snoop Dogg (Tao), J Cole (Light), Nicki Minaj and Meek Mill (Drai’s) and Nick Jonas (Foxtail).

The city’s sports books also should be busy today with two College Football Playoff semifinal games, No. 4 Oklahoma against No. 1 Clemson in the Orange Bowl at 1 p.m., locally, and No. 3 Michigan State against No. 2 Alabama at 5 p.m., locally, in the Cotton Bowl.

There are numerous transportation options for those going to the Strip. Those who drive and park in resort parking garages need to get there before road closures start about 5 p.m., and they’ll be stuck there until after the fireworks show.

The Las Vegas Monorail is an option for moving along the Strip. The system will be in the midst of 44 consecutive hours of operation by tonight. Locals can ride for $1 one way if they purchase tickets with local identification in advance at monorail ticket offices that will be open until 11 p.m.

The Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada fixed-route bus lines will run free along alternative routes avoiding street closures from 6 p.m. Thursday to 9 a.m. Friday.

Local taxi companies have been briefed on road closures and will be available, and this year, Uber and Lyft are options for those who prefer ride-hailing transportation.

Contact Richard N. Velotta at rvelotta@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3893. Find him on Twitter: @RickVelotta

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