NEW YORK (AP) — From teeming Times Square to an Asian capital hosting its first public New Year’s Eve countdown in decades, the world looked to the start of 2013 with hope for renewal after a year of economic turmoil, searing violence and natural disasters.
Fireworks, concerts and celebrations unfolded around the globe to ring in the new year and, for some, to wring out the old.
“With all the sadness in the country, we’re looking for some good changes in 2013,” Laura Concannon, of Hingham, Mass., said as she, her husband, Kevin, and his parents took in the scene in bustling Times Square on Monday.
A blocks-long line of bundled-up revelers with New Year’s hats and sunglasses boasting “2013” formed hours before the first ball drop in decades without Dick Clark, who died in April and was to be honored with a tribute concert and his name printed on pieces of confetti.
Security in Times Square was tight, with a mass of uniformed police and plainclothes officers assigned to blend into the crowd. With police Commissioner Raymond Kelly proclaiming that Times Square would be the “safest place in the world on New Year’s Eve,” officers used barriers to prevent overcrowding and checkpoints to inspect vehicles, enforce a ban on alcohol and check handbags.
Elsewhere hours earlier, lavish fireworks displays lit up skylines in Sydney, Hong Kong and Shanghai. The United Arab Emirates city of Dubai then took up the baton with a spectacular display featuring multicolored fireworks dancing up and down the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa. In Russia, Moscow’s iconic Red Square was filled with spectators as fireworks exploded near the Kremlin.
Organizers said about 90,000 people gathered in a large field in Yangon, Myanmar, for their first chance to do what much of the world does every Dec. 31 — watch a countdown. The reformist government that took office last year in the country, long under military rule, threw the nation’s first public New Year’s celebration in decades.