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New Year revellers defy big freeze

world Updated: Jan 02, 2010 00:39 IST

Hundreds of thousands of revellers gathered in chilly weather on Thursday in Times Square to usher in the new decade and say goodbye to 10 years marred by war, recession, terrorism and threats of environmental catastrophe.

Fireworks were set off and 1,360 kg of confetti scattered when the gigantic New Year’s Eve crystal ball drops at midnight.

Cell phones were brought out to document the last few hours of a decade many wanted to leave behind. The crowds brought out heightened security. Hundreds of officers were scattered around Times Square. Snipers were at various locations.

From fireworks over Sydney’s famous bridge to balloons sent aloft in Tokyo, revellers across the globe at least temporarily shelved worries about the future to bid farewell to “The Noughties” — a bitter-tinged nickname for the first decade of the 21st century playing on a term for “zero” and evoking the word naughty.

Paris jazzed up the Eiffel Tower with a multicoloured, disco-style light display as the world basked in New Year’s festivities with hopes that 2010 and beyond will bring more peace and prosperity.

Las Vegas welcomed some 315,000 revellers with fireworks from casino rooftops, a traffic-free Las Vegas Strip and toasts at nightclubs from celebrities including actress Eva Longoria and rapper 50 Cent.

At midnight in Rio de Janeiro, about 2 million people gathered along the 4 km Copacabana beach to watch a huge fireworks display and listen to dozens of music acts and DJs. The multitudes came mostly dressed in traditional white clothing, a nod to the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomble but a custom followed by nearly everyone as it is thought to bring peace and good luck for the coming year.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hailed events in 2009 like the inauguration of the United States’ first black president, and international attempts to grapple with climate change and the global financial crisis.

Venice revellers rang in the New Year with wet feet as high tide on its archipelago peaked before midnight to flood low-lying parts of the city — including the St. Mark’s Square.