Jittery world bids adieu to a year marred by terror, some nations cancel NY events

A soldier patrols at the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015. France's defense minister has visited troops on duty ahead of unusually tense New Year's Eve celebrations in Paris after November attacks that left 130 dead and hundreds injured. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)


AP

In Bangkok, police-flanked partygoers will ring in the new year at the site of a deadly bombing that took place just months ago. In Paris, residents recovering from their city’s own deadly attacks will enjoy scaled-back celebrations. And in Belgium’s capital, authorities anxious after thwarting what they say was a holiday terror plot have canceled festivities altogether.

As the final hours of 2015 draw to a close, many are bidding a weary and wary adieu to a year marred by attacks that left nations reeling and nerves rattled. Still, most places are forging ahead with their celebrations as many refuse to let jitters ruin the joy of the holiday.

“We still have this fear but we need to continue to live,” said Parisian Myriam Oukik. “We will celebrate.”

A look at how people around the world are planning to do exactly that: Australia Australian officials, struggling to contain the threat from home-grown extremists, encouraged revelers to enjoy the evening and assured that thousands of extra police would be out patrolling the major cities.

“Don’t change your way of life,” Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle recently urged residents of the nation’s second-largest city, expected to gather by the hundreds of thousands despite blistering temperatures to watch nearly 11 tons of fireworks light up the sky. “Don’t let events from around the world challenge the way that we live.”

Melbourne’s rival, Sydney, takes seriously its position as one of the first major cities in the world to ring in each new year and plans to celebrate in its typical showy fashion. More than 1 million are expected to gather along the famed harbor to watch a glittery display featuring a multicolored firework “waterfall” cascading off the Harbour Bridge and pyrotechnic effects in the shapes of butterflies, octopuses and flowers.

Japan New Year’s Eve is Japan’s biggest holiday, and millions crammed into trains to flee the cities for their hometowns to slurp down bowls of noodles, symbolizing longevity, while watching the annual Red and White NHK song competition. As midnight approaches, families bundle up for visits to neighborhood temples, where the ritual ringing of huge bronze bells reverberates through the chill.

Tokyo is on special alert for security issues this year, with posters in subways and other public spaces warning people to keep their eyes open for suspicious packages or activities.

South Korea South Koreans will mark New Year’s Eve with traditional bell ringing ceremonies, fireworks and outdoor music and dance performances. Thousands of people, including North Korean refugees, are expected to gather at a town near the border with rival North Korea to watch one of the ceremonies and wish for peaceful Korean unification.

In her New Year’s message, South Korean President Park Geun-hye stressed again that her government is open to dialogue with North Korea but it will “resolutely” cope with any provocation by Pyongyang.

North Korea is expected to mark the new year with a speech by leader Kim Jong Un, which outside observers use to pore over for insight on the reclusive country’s policy direction.