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.
Photo by Jennifer Compston-Strough
Three-month-old Eli Hepburn is ready to welcome 2013. He is ringing in the new year today with his parents, Erin and Brian Hepburn of St. Clairsville, and big brothers Jonah, 3, and Owen, 2. Eli’s grandparents are Joan Lee and Allen Rose of St. Clairsville and Clarence and Martha Hepburn of Jacobsburg. He was born Sept. 25.
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 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 its first public New Year's celebration in decades.
"We feel like we are in a different world," said Yu Thawda, a university student who went with three of her friends.
The atmosphere of celebration was muted in some places with concern.
Europe planned scaled-back festivities and street parties, the mood restrained - if hopeful - for a 2013 that is projected to be a sixth straight year of recession amid Greece's worst economic crisis since World War II. Hotels, clubs and other sites in New Delhi, the Indian capital, canceled festivities after the death of a rape victim on Saturday touched off days of mourning and reflection about women's safety. In the Philippines, where many are recovering from devastation from a recent typhoon, a health official danced to South Korean rapper Psy's "Gangnam Style" video in an effort to stop revelers from setting off huge illegal firecrackers, which maim and injure hundreds of Filipinos each year.