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World Rings In 2020

And ushers out 2019
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 1, 2020 12:01 AM CST

(Newser) – Revelers around the globe are bidding farewell to a decade that will be remembered for the rise of social media, the Arab Spring, the #MeToo movement and, of course, President Donald Trump. A look at how the world is ushering in 2020 from the AP:

  • Rio de Janeiro: About 3 million people welcomed 2020 at Brazil's iconic Copacabana beach as almost 34,000 pounds 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.

  • 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.
  • 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. One woman grabbed the pope's hand and pulled him toward her to shake it. Francis, 83, exclaimed and then struck the woman's hand twice to free his hand.
  • 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 canceled amid safety concerns, while some roads were closed and barriers set up in the Lan Kwai Fong nightlife district to control crowds. (Hong Kong police and protesters continued clashing into the new year.)
  • 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 in the coming year.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 poor Hillbrow neighborhood would celebrate the New Year by tossing furniture, appliances and even refrigerators from the balconies of high-rise apartment buildings. Police have issued stern warnings, and it appears the dangerous tradition has declined.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
(Read more New Year's Eve stories.)

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