US, Europe hope the new year brings better times

1:47 AM, Jan 1, 2013   |    comments
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Fireworks explode over the ancient Parthenon temple at the Acropolis Hill, New Year celebrations in Athens, Greece

NEW YORK -- From New York's teeming Times Square to an Asian capital hosting its first public New Year's Eve countdown in decades, the world is looking to 2013 with hope for renewal.

Fireworks, concerts and celebrations have unfolded around the globe to say goodbye to a year of economic turmoil, violence and natural disasters.

Security was tight in Times Square, where 1 million people were on hand to see the dropping of the crystal ball at midnight Monday. The Newtown, Conn., school shooting and Superstorm Sandy are on people's minds.

A mass of uniformed police and plainclothes officers were assigned to blend into the crowd. Barriers were erected to prevent overcrowding and checkpoints were used to inspect vehicles.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly called Times Square the "safest place in the world on New Year's Eve."

This was the first ball drop in decades without Dick Clark, who died in April and was being honored with a tribute concert and his name printed on pieces of confetti.

Hours earlier, lavish fireworks displays lit skylines in Sydney, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Moscow.

Organizers say 90,000 people gathered in a field in Yangon, Myanmar, for their first chance to watch a countdown in decades. A reformist government took office last year after long military rule.

In austerity-hit Europe, the mood has been restrained.

Associated Press

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