2015 begins with global fireworks


AP

Revelers crowded New York’s Times Square and converged on the beaches of Brazil and skyscrapers of Dubai to say good riddance to a turbulent 2014 marred by terror woes, Ebola outbreaks and a horrific series of airline disasters.

But tragedy struck in Shanghai, Baghdad was on edge and protesters in the United States delivered a sobering reminder of one of the year’s biggest stories.

A million people crammed into New York’s Times Square welcomed the new year with kisses, hugs and cheers after the giant, Waterford crystal ball dropped at midnight and a ton of confetti rained down.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, flanked by his wife and two children, pushed the ceremonial button that set the 11,875-pound glittering ball in motion. Revelers from around the world waving pink balloons and wearing pink foam hats exchanged good wishes and danced as Frank Sinatra’s ��New York, New York�� blared on loudspeakers.

Agustina Bernacchia, a tourist from Argentina, had arrived early to secure her spot. She said she wanted to experience the New Year’s Eve party she’d always seen on TV.

��It was a dream for us,�� Bernacchia said.

Shivering in the New Year New Year’s Eve revelers in bunny costumes �X the corsets and fishnets kind �X and designer suits walking down the Vegas strip Wednesday night had scarves wrapped around their necks against temperatures expected to drop into the 20s. Occasional flurries fell, but none stuck around long enough to be snow.

Laura Mayo of Las Vegas was wearing a plush fur coat, but not shivering bunny Rechelle Sheridan. ��It takes away from the costume,�� the 25-year-old city resident said.

Synchronized bursts of color shot from the rooftops of seven casino-hotels along the Las Vegas Strip as fireworks filled the sky, ushering in the new year. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority had said it expected about 340,000 people to attend.

The Gulf Arab emirate of Dubai was aiming to break the world record for the largest LED-illuminated facade with its spectacular display centered on the world’s tallest building.

Some 70,000 LED panels around the 2,722-foot Burj Khalifa flashed colored lights and projected images of the country’s leaders when clocks there struck midnight as a massive fireworks display erupted. The celebration draws throngs of thousands of spectators every New Year’s Eve.

Emaar Properties said a team from Guinness World Records monitored the preparations. Last year, Dubai won the title for the world’s largest firework display, according to Guinness.

All Kinds of Balls Drop around the World The ball drop is a tradition that’s being increasingly copied across the United States with twists celebrating local icons.

Among the items being dropped: a big chili in Las Cruces, New Mexico; a replica peach in Atlanta; a musical note in Nashville, Tennessee; a large pine cone in Flagstaff, Arizona; an oversized spurred cowboy boot in Prescott, Arizona; a 270-kilogram walleye made of wood and fiberglass in Port Clinton, Ohio; an 36-kilogram wedge of cheese in Plymouth, Wisconsin; and in Escanaba, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, a replica of a pasty (pronounced PAS’-tee) �X a baked pastry filled with meat and potatoes.

In Iraq’s war-scarred capital, Baghdad authorities ordered a one-off lifting of the overnight curfew in force for more than a decade to allow the city’s revelers to stay out late on the streets.

Traffic was unusually heavy starting shortly after sunset and authorities closed commercial streets to vehicles in the city’s center as a precaution against possible suicide bombings by militants of the Islamic State terror group.

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