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Revelers usher in 2014 with fireworks, festivities

Revelers usher in 2014 with fireworks, festivities

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Published : 2014-01-01 20:16
Updated : 2014-01-01 20:16

The world welcomed 2014 with a series of spectacular firework displays as a wave of pyrotechnic extravaganzas swept around the globe to celebrate the New Year.

In Korea, people crowded together on the nation’s east coast to meet the first sunrise in 2014 while making wishes and declaring their New Year resolutions.

About 300,000 people visited Haeundae in Busan to experience the start of the New Year, according to police.

The occasion was celebrated in a number of ways on eastern beaches, including releasing balloons, swimming in the sea, horse riding and sunrise cruises.

Seoul’s 15th-century bronze bell was rung 33 times, reflecting the ancient custom for marking a new year.

In the United States, Times Square in New York erupted in joy and a shower of multi-colored confetti as the city’s famed glass ball eased down to mark the final seconds before 2014.

In the latest scene of global New Year celebrations an estimated one million people, braving freezing temperatures and some of them camping out since morning for a good spot at the festivities, joined in a chorus to boom out the final countdown to 2014.

None other than U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ― a native New Yorker ― activated the mechanism that sent the Big Apple’s famed 5,500 kilogram flashy, multicolor ball on its way down a pole to signal the end of one year and the start of another.

Times Square blazed with neon lights above the jubilant crowd, many wearing blue top hats advertising a brand of skin cream.

In China, Xi Jinping, delivering his first New Year’s address as China’s president, said the country must press ahead with reforms in 2014 to improve livelihoods and make the country “rich and strong.”

China entered 2014 facing slowing economic growth, rising environmental concerns and higher tensions with Japan over a territorial dispute that has damaged a $366 billion trade relationship. Tackling those challenges will be up to Xi, who as head of the Communist Party, military and state has amassed the greatest individual sway over his nation since former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.

In Japan, millions visited local temples and shrines to greet the New Year with contemplation and to pray for peace for relatives.

Europe joined in the party with a giant salvo in London, after Dubai attempted to break the work record for the biggest-ever fireworks show and Sydney got the ball rolling ahead of Asia with a dazzling display.

In London, huge cheers went up as parliament’s clock tower chimed in 2014, as people packed the banks of the River Thames to watch the pyrotechnics at the London Eye observation wheel.

About 50,000 took part in “the world’s first multi-sensory fireworks display,” when peach snow, edible banana confetti and orange-scented bubbles descended on a section of the crowd.

In Dubai, the Middle Eastern hub was attempting to break the Guinness World Record by setting off more than 400,000 fireworks.

The glittering display lasted around six minutes and spanned 100 kilometers of the coast, focusing on the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower, 830 meters high.

People crowded in the streets below took pictures as the thundering display filled the skies.

“It’s amazing,” said May Hinnawi, a 35-year-old Syrian. “I will tell my children and grandchildren I was here to see this event.”

Kuwait set the record in 2011 with an hour-long blast of 77,282 fireworks.

In Europe, Berliners partied at the Brandenburg Gate, while hundreds of thousands in Paris thronged the Champs Elysees.

“Paris is wonderful tonight,” said Hu Lichu, a Chinese woman in her 60s who came with her husband.

Thousands of cheering Spaniards in Madrid saw in 2014 by gobbling down twelve grapes ― one with each clock chime ― in a New Year tradition.

One man was killed by fireworks in the Netherlands and another in France.

Kiribati and Samoa in the Pacific were the first to see in the New Year. Sydney had the first of the world’s major pyrotechnic shows, with seven tons of explosives lighting up Australia’s biggest city.

Fireworks shot off from the top of the Opera House for the first time in more than 10 years in a show which attracted some 1.5 million people.

For areas ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, celebrations were muted.

In the ruined farming village of San Isidro, residents are still grappling with the overpowering stench of death as 1,400 corpses stacked in black body bags lay in a field, more than seven weeks after the tragedy.

In Indonesia’s sharia stronghold of Banda Aceh, New Year’s Eve celebrations were banned for the first time. Islamic police seized thousands of firecrackers and cardboard trumpets.

Mumbai revelers celebrated a court victory which pushed back closing time in bars and restaurants to 5:00 a.m. instead of 1:30 a.m.

South Africa bade farewell to 2013 with a 3-D video send-off of Mandela as the country entered the New Year without its beloved icon.

(From news reports)

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