Spectacular fireworks, revelry as world welcomes New Year

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Australia rang in the New Year with a spectacular display of rainbow-colored fireworks cascading from Sydney Harbour Bridge.
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AFP

Fireworks light the sky over the Opera House and Harbour Bridge during New Year’s Eve celebrations in Sydney.

Australia rang in the New Year yesterday with a spectacular display of rainbow-colored fireworks cascading from Sydney Harbour Bridge, as revelers marked the nation’s legalization of gay marriage amid tight security.

About 1.5 million people packed the city’s foreshore to watch the pyrotechnics light up the sky above the historic bridge and the iconic opera house, the first major celebrations worldwide after New Zealand.

“This is a fabulous way to see out 2017 — the year that four out of five Sydneysiders said a resounding ‘Yes’ to marriage equality,” said Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore of the nationwide postal vote in support of change.

Thousands turned out earlier in New Zealand’s largest city Auckland for the annual New Year’s Eve street party, marked by a major fireworks display from the Sky Tower. They were among the first in the world to usher in 2018.

In Waiheke Island, 30 kilometers from Auckland, authorities canceled the planned fireworks display because of drought conditions and low water supplies for firefighters.

Elsewhere, Ugandans were gathering at churches across the country to mark the end of 2017. The raucous events, during which some preachers are known to make dubious predictions, have become such a staple of New Year’s Eve festivities that the country’s long-time President Yoweri Museveni sometimes makes time to make an appearance at a church.

Police warned revelers not to burn car tires in celebration, citing safety reasons, to discourage a favorite activity of those, especially in the countryside, who cannot afford real fireworks.

Germans will ring in 2018 under tight security from police mindful of widespread sexual abuse of women in Cologne two years ago and of a terrorist attack on a Christmas market last year.

Police in Berlin added 1,600 officers on duty and said that large bags and knapsacks would not be allowed on the “Party Mile” leading from Brandenburg Gate, where thousands were expected to celebrate at midnight. Police in Frankfurt imposed similar restrictions in the celebration area along the Main River in the country’s financial capital.

A major windstorm was causing problems in Scotland, but organizers expected Edinburgh’s famed Hogmany New Year’s Eve celebration to be unaffected. Storm Dylan is battering parts of Scotland with forecasters saying injuries are possible because of flying debris.

Many Japanese celebrated the arrival of the Year of the Dog in the traditional way of praying for peace and good fortune at neighborhood Shinto shrines, and eating New Year’s food such as noodles, shrimp and sweet black beans.

Thousands of people filled the streets near Seoul’s City Hall for a traditional bell-tolling ceremony to usher in the new year.


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