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Cities around the world welcome 2014 with fireworks.
By Erik Ortiz, Daniella Silva and Elisha Fieldstadt, NBC News
A massive, exuberant crowd of revelers from all over the world packed New York City streets to watch the crystal-covered ball in Times Square descend in a celebration of 2014’s arrival, capping off a global wave of festivities that also included a record-breaking fireworks display in Dubai and edibles falling from the sky in London.
When the 12-foot-wide ball dropped in Manhattan, the crowd erupted in cheers and shouts of “Happy New Year!” Some in the crowd had been staked out in the frigid cold since early morning.
“This is the best New Year’s Eve of my life,” said Marcus Ix, 34, after confetti started raining down. “It was worth the 13-hour wait in the cold.”
“TV doesn’t do this justice,” said Kerrie McConaghy, 20, a tourist from Ireland. “You have to be here to believe it.”
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor led her native city’s 60-second countdown and pushed the button to start the trigger the drop of the famous Times Square New Year’s Eve ball.
Beforehand, pop artists such as Miley Cyrus, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Blondie revved up up the crowd with chart-topping fan favorites.
More than a million revelers were herded into pens in 28 degree cold to catch a glimpse of the crystal-covered orb and possibly just to claim they did it that one time.
“Once in a lifetime for me, for sure. I mean, if I even survive. I can’t wait to get out of here,” said Jerry Bender, who came from California with his granddaughter.
Still, some stood in Times Square for the sake of tradition. “Every time I say it’s the last. But then I come back,” said Yasmina Merrir of Washington, D.C., who was attending her fourth Times Square ball drop.
A regular at the ceremonial New Year’s bash, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said he would not be attending the event for the first time in a decade and would instead spend the evening with friends and family.
“Thank you, New Yorkers, for the honor and privilege of serving you these past 12 years,” Bloomberg said in a tweet before 2013 — and his time in office — came to a close.
His successor, Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, rang the new year by being sworn into office outside his home at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.
Kicking off 2014 in style, the United Arab Emirates’ city-state of Dubai attempts for the largest-ever fireworks display by shooting off 500,000 fireworks in five minutes.
By the time Wednesday morning arrives in New York, many around the world will have already welcomed 2014, and their celebrations will become memories — even the one that handily broke a world record.
Dubai, the Persian Gulf city-state known for glitz, glamour and over-the-top achievements — like the world’s tallest skyscraper — accomplished another record by creating the largest fireworks show ever for its celebration of 2014.
“Dubai saw in 2014 in unforgettable style last night, with a successful attempt at the world record for the largest ever fireworks display,” Guinness World Records announced in a statement.
The dazzling 30-minute show, designed by U.S. firm Grucci, was capped off with six minutes of fireworks that engulfed the city’s manmade, palm-shaped island, with its fronds and trunk shimmering in thousands of lights.
Organizers beat a record set in 2012 in Kuwait that included more than 77,000 fireworks. Dubai set off enough fireworks within the first minute of its show to squash Kuwait’s benchmark, Guinness World Records said.
In total, the extravaganza was slated to include half a million fireworks from 400 firing locations synchronized by 100 computers, said Barrett Wissman, co-chairman of IMG Artists, which was managing the event. The company also organized the grand fireworks for the Atlantis hotel opening on Dubai’s Palm Island in 2008.
A massive fireworks display in Sydney Harbor rings in the new year Down Under.
Fireworks were also heavily featured in celebrations in Sydney, Australia — where a massive fireworks display lit up the sky around the city’s famed Harbor Bridge and Opera House — and in Hong Kong.
While London couldn’t boast the world’s largest fireworks display, organizers arranged for edible banana-flavored confetti and strawberry mist to fall from the sky as their fireworks show illuminated the River Thames.
On Kiev’s main square, at least 100,000 Ukrainians sang their national anthem in a sign of support for integration with Europe. The square has been the scene of massive pro-European protests for more than a month, triggered by President Viktor Yanukovych’s decision to ditch a key deal with the European Union.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis used his year-end prayer service of thanksgiving to urge people to ask themselves: Did they spend 2013 to further their own interests or to help others?
In Japan, thousands of locals and visitors, prayed, rang bells and tossed coins as offerings wishing for health, wealth and happiness for the traditional ceremony. Temple bells were to ring the customary 108 times, for the 108 causes of suffering according to Buddhism, and welcome in the Year of the Horse.
More than 260 people were injured by festive firecracker blasts and gunfire in the Philippines, celebrating the end of a year that brought a devastating storm and a subsequent typhoon that killed thousands and left more missing.
When 2014 began in Colorado, some celebrated more than the New Year. A new law went into effect in the state at midnight that makes it legal for residents to buy an ounce of marijuana at a time.
In San Francisco, one of the last places in the world to see the clock strike midnight, about 200,000 people were expected to gather on the waterfront for a fireworks display illuminating the city’s world-famous Golden Gate Bridge.
Simultaneously, the 335,000 who flocked to Las Vegas would celebrate by flooding out of casinos and clubs into the 4-mile Las Vegas Strip —which had been blocked off to traffic since 6 p.m. — to watch an eight-minute fireworks display illuminate Sin City even more than usual.
President Barack Obama celebrated a low-key New Year’s Eve with his family at vacation rental in Hawaii.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.
Kiwis ring in 2014 with fireworks in the country’s largest city, Auckland.
This story was originally published on Wed Jan 1, 2014 2:10 AM EST
Watching NBCNews.com video: New Zealand first to welcome in New Year – http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nbc-news/53950066 via @nbcnews