Cheers, Tears, Prayers As New Decade Is Ushered In

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People celebrate the New Year on Times Square in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)

Revelers Around The Globe Bid Farewell To 2019 And A Tumultous Decade

NEW YORK

Fireworks burst and confetti fell as throngs of revelers cheered the start of 2020 in New York City’s Times Square.

In one of the globe’s most-watched New Year’s Eve spectacles, the crowd counted down the last seconds of 2019 as a luminescent crystal ball descended down a pole.

About 3,000 pounds (1,360 kilograms) of confetti showered the sea of attendees, many of whom were also briefly rained on earlier in the evening as they waited in security pens for performances by stars including rap-pop star Post Malone, K-pop group BTS, country singer Sam Hunt and singer-songwriter Alanis Morissette.

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown at the Dixie Gurdwara to
celebrate #NewYear. At 1:00 am on January 1. Pic: Patrick Brown

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RIO DE JANEIRO

About 3 million people welcomed 2020 at Brazil’s iconic Copacabana beach as almost 34,000 pounds (15,420 kilograms) of colorful fireworks went off for 14 minutes after midnight.

Rio de Janeiro holds one of the biggest New Year parties in the world, with music, drinks and religious rituals on the shores. Many dress in white in a traditional sign of their hope for peace. About 2,000 policemen are working to ensure party-goers are safe. Authorities say only minor incidents have been reported so far.

The party in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s metropolis, took about 2 million people to Paulista Avenue, the city’s main road. Nearly all the 6,000 pounds (2,720 kilograms) of fireworks used there were silent so pets did not get too bothered by the noise.

Fireworks at Celebration Square in Mississauga.

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PARIS

A joyful crowd of Parisians and tourists walked, biked and used scooters to reach the Champs-Elysees for the new year celebrations, in a city with almost no public transport amid massive strikes.

Revelers converged at the famous avenue to watch a light show at the Arc de Triomphe, followed by a fireworks display at midnight. Paris police set up a security perimeter around the Champs-Elysees area with a ban on alcohol and traffic restrictions.

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ROME

Pope Francis delighted tourists and Romans in St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday night when he took a stroll to admire the Nativity scene. Shouts of “Pope! Pope!’’ and “Happy New Year!’’ resounded as families rushed to catch a glimpse of him or thrust out their infant in hopes he would pat their heads or pinch their cheeks.

Indian Christians release balloons to celebrate the New Year after offering prayers at a Church in Ahmadabad, India, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. (AP Photo/Ajit Solanki)

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New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday greeted the citizens on the occasion of the New Year. “Have a wonderful 2020! May this year be filled with joy and prosperity. May everyone be healthy and may everyone’s aspirations be fulfilled. Best wishes to all of you for the year 2020,” the Prime Minister said.

Rahul Gandhi tweeted:“Happy New Year to each and every one of you. Have a wonderful year! Welcome 2020.”

Revelers get together to celebrate on New Year’s eve in Bangalore, India, Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi)

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Bengaluru

Frenzy gripped India’s tech hub as thousands of revellers ushered in the New Year on early Wednesday by greeting each other, dancing to loud music and partying through the night, with the police watching them celebrate the event safely and peacefully.

As on every New Year eve, hundreds of revellers, flocked to the city’s central business district choking its famous M.G. Road and Brigade Road hours before the clock struck midnight.

Bidding goodbye to a tumultuous 2019 and welcoming 2020 in style, many were seen bursting crackers, cheering, hooting, waving and hugging others.

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HONG KONG

Revelers as well as pro-democracy protesters flocked to sites across Hong Kong to usher in 2020. The semi-autonomous Chinese city has toned down New Year’s celebrations amid the monthslong demonstrations. The protests have repeatedly sparked pitched battles with police and have taken their toll on Hong Kong’s nightlife and travel industries. A fireworks display that traditionally lights up famed Victoria Harbor was cancelled amid safety concerns.

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RUSSIA

Russians began the world’s longest continuous New Year’s Eve with fireworks and a message from President Vladimir Putin urging them to work together. Putin made the call in a short speech broadcast on television just before the stroke of midnight in Russia’s 11 time zones.

But one holiday tradition was missing in Moscow this year _ a picturesque layer of snow. The Russian capital has had an unusually warm December and temperatures in central Moscow were just above freezing.

Midnight fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbour Bridge during New Year’s eve celebrations in Sydney, Tuesday, Dec.31, 2019. (Lukas Coch/AAP Images via AP)

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AUSTRALIA

More than a million people descended on a hazy Sydney Harbour and surrounding areas to ring in the new year despite the ongoing wildfire crisis ravaging New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state.

The 9 p.m. fireworks over Sydney’s iconic landmarks was briefly delayed due to strong winds, but revelers clearly enjoyed themselves.

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NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand’s major cities greeted the new year with fireworks as the nation appeared happy to be done with a year of challenges, both natural and man-made. On March 15, a lone gunman identified killed 51 people in the South Island city of Christchurch. In December, an eruption of volcanic White Island off the east coast of the North Island killed at least 19 people.

Performers during the New Year’s Day Parade in London, Wednesday Jan. 1, 2020. (Victoria Jones/PA via AP)

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LONDON

Londoners watched a spectacular fireworks display from the banks of the River Thames that was launched from the London Eye and barges near Parliament.

The familiar chimes of London’s Big Ben clock tower rung in the new year, even though they have been silent for most of 2019 because of extensive restoration work. To the north, the multi-day Hogmanay New Year’s celebrations in Edinburgh began Monday night with a torchlight parade through the streets.

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SOUTH AFRICA

Thousands of revelers gathered at Cape Town’s Waterfront area to ring in the new year with music, dancing and fireworks in front of the city’s iconic Table Mountain. In past years, residents of Johannesburg’s Hillbrow neighbourhood would celebrate the New Year by tossing furniture, appliances and even refrigerators from balconies of high-rise buildings. Police have issued stern warnings, and it appears the dangerous tradition has declined.

Swimmers jump in the Atlantic Ocean in the annual New Year’s Day Coney Island Polar Bear Plunge, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

For nearly 10 minutes, fireworks lit the sky over Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, as hundreds of thousands gathered downtown to watch the spectacular display.  The New Year’s Eve display at the 828-meter-tall (2,716-foot-tall) skyscraper was just one of seven different fireworks shows across the emirate. Tourists, especially from Europe and Russia, flocked to the sunny beaches of Dubai at this time ofyear to escape the cold, dark winter.

To keep the massive crowds safe, police created walkways around the Burj Khalifa tower for male-only groups.

JAPAN

People flocked to temples and shrines in Japan, offering incense with their prayers to celebrate the passing of a year and the the first New Year’s of the Reiwa era.

Under Japan’s old-style calendar, linked to emperors’ rules, Reiwa started in May, after Emperor Akihito stepped down and his son Naruhito became emperor. Although Reiwa is entering its second year with 2020, Jan. 1 still marks Reiwa’s first New Year’s, the most important holiday in Japan.  Stalls at Zojoji Temple in Tokyo sold sweet rice wine, fried noodles and candied apples, as well as little amulets in the shape of mice, the zodiac animal for 2020. Since the Year of the Mouse starts off the Asian zodiac, it’s associated with starting anew.

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INDONESIA

Tens of thousands of revelers in Indonesia’s capital of Jakarta were soaked by torrential rains as they waited for New Year’s Eve fireworks while others in the country were wary of an active volcano. Festive events along coastal areas near the Sunda Strait were dampened by a possible larger eruption of Anak Krakatau, an island volcano that erupted last year, triggering a tsunami that killed more than 430 people.

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SOUTH KOREA

Thousands of South Koreans filled cold downtown streets in Seoul ahead of a traditional bell-tolling ceremony near City Hall to send off an exhausting 2019 highlighted by political scandals, decaying job markets and crumbling diplomacy. Dignitaries ringing the old Bosingak bell at midnight included South Korean Major League Baseball pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu and Pengsoo, a giant penguin character with a gruff voice and blunt personality that emerged as one of the country’s biggest TV stars in 2019.

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GERMANY

Hundreds of thousands of revelers were expected rang in the New Year in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Several German cities including Munich and Hamburg banned private fireworks amid concerns about the danger and environmental impacts from the increasingly powerful fireworks. A recent poll by the Forsa research institute found 59% of Germans would support the bans.

Open Air New Year celebrations in Brampton.

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LAS VEGAS

Tourism officials said more than 300,000 revelers saw fireworks at midnight from atop seven casinos on the resort-lined Las Vegas Strip. Thousands more were attending live music and an LED light and sound show at the downtown Fremont Street Experience pedestrian mall. Michael Austin, a country music singer from Nashville, Tennessee, who was booked to perform in Las Vegas said: “Swarms of people getting along, bringing in the new year.’’

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HONOLULU

Revelers packed beaches from Waikiki to the Big Island as Hawaii residents and  visitors to ring in the new decade. A strong winter swell brought heavy waves to north- and west-facing shores of the islands Monday, nearly triggering the iconic Waimea Bay big wave contest named after Hawaiian surfing legend Eddie Aikau.