Miami gears up for New Year's Eve celebrations

Police will be out in force during fireworks, concert at Bayfront Park

MIAMI, Fla. – The city of Miami is preparing to ring in 2018 with the plenty of fireworks, a free concert and even more security. 

Hometown rapper Pit Bull will perform a free concert starting at 11:30 p.m. at  Bayfront Park, in the 300 block of North Biscaye Boulevard. At midnight, organizers will the raise the "Big Orange Ball" at the Intercontinental Hotel and set off fireworks to ring in the New Year.

"The staffing for this year's event is at a historically high level of security. We have more police officers working than we've ever had here for this event." said Ronald Papier, deputy chief for the Miami Police Department.

Papier said uniform and plainclothes officers will patrol the event along with marine and helicopter units.

"The unique challenges is that it's open and it's free to the public. There's no fencing, there's no bag checks, so it's pretty much open and accessible to everybody to come in," Papier said. "There's no security screening."

Like other city's across the country, Miami has increased security for New Year's Eve events after several recent high-profile terrorist attacks and mass shootings. More than 50 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at a concert in Las Vegas in October.

A recent uptick in gun violence in the Miami area was also a factor in the security arrangements, Mayor Miami Francis Suarez said.

However, Suarez said he wants the New Year's celebrations to be a showcase for the city.

"We for a few moment also grasp the attention of the world and so by raising the orange, we are hope to raise people's hopes and dreams and prayers for a brand new year," Suarez said.

Organizers have asked concertgoers not to bring fireworks or coolers.

Unlike previous years, the Miami event with Pit Bull will not be on national television. The Fox network decided to move its New Year's party to New York this year with TV personality Steve Harvey taking over the hosting duties from Pit Bull.

Although no road closures are planned, city official warn that the New Year's Eve celebrations will cause traffic delays in the downtown area. Papier and other city officials encourage revelers to use public transportation or carpool to the event.

Miami public transportation will remain on a regular Sunday schedule for the holiday. But Metrorail plans to increase service after 8 p.m. Metrorail will have trains every 15 minutes between the Dadeland South and Earlington Heights stations, and every 30 minutes between the Palmetto and Earlington Heights stations. Metrorail will also extend service until 2 a.m. Monday.