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New Year's revelers bid adieu to year of conflicts, celebrity deaths

Times Square security

As 2016 draws to a close, revelers around the world are bidding a weary adieu to a year filled with political surprises, prolonged conflicts and deaths of legendary celebrities.

How people are ushering in the new year:


New Year’s celebrations turned violent when an armed assailant opened fire at a nightclub in Istanbul, wounding several people, a state-run news agency said. 

People run away from a nightclub where a gun attack took place during a New Year party in Istanbul, Turkey, on January 1, 2017. Ismail Coskun/Ihlas News Agency via REUTERS

Private NTV television said more than one assailant may have been involved in the attack. The attacker or attackers are believed to have entered the nightclub disguised as Santa Claus, the station reported. 

Security measures had been heightened in major Turkish cities, with police barring traffic leading up to key squares in Istanbul and the capital, Ankara. In Istanbul, 17,000 police officers were put on duty, some camouflaged as Santa Claus or street vendors. 

Ankara and Istanbul have been targeted by several attacks in 2016 carried out by the Islamic State group or Kurdish rebels, killing more than 180 people. 

Neslihan Dogruol, a restaurant owner in a chic Istanbul neighborhood, said she hopes for peace in 2017 following a year filled with “unrest and death.” 

“2016 affected everyone badly,” she said.

New York City

An estimated 2 million people ushered in the new year in Times Square, screaming and kissing as the glittering crystal ball dropped.   

And millions more tuned in to watch Mariah Carey’s botched performance.   

Throngs arrived several hours ahead of time for the massive festivities. When night fell, the crowd watched as workers raised and lit the Waterford crystal ball high above One Times Square — to the accompaniment of “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

The crowd was later treated to performances by Gloria Estefan and Joe Jonas’ band DNCE, among others. Many revelers said there was nowhere else they would want to be.

“(I said), ‘I’m going to New York to watch the ball drop, yeah,’ and I’m here!” said Theresa Abraham of Arlington, Virginia.

After a very long wait, many revelers said it was worth it.

“Probably not again, but like it’s a bucket list item,” said Ammon Orgill of San Francisco. “You have to do it once. It’s so fun. The energy here is like out of control. You’re just like with tons of other crazy people – it’s totally worth it!”


Sydney sent up a dazzling tribute to 2016’s fallen icons with a New Year’s Eve fireworks display honoring the late singer David Bowie and late actor Gene Wilder, becoming the first major city to bid a bittersweet adieu to a turbulent year.

The glittering display over Sydney’s famed harbor and bridge featured Saturn and star-shaped fireworks set to “Space Oddity,” the classic song by Bowie - one of the seemingly endless parade of beloved entertainers who died in 2016.

Wilder was also honored as the bridge lit up in a rainbow of colors while a song from Wilder’s famed film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory” played.

“This year, sadly, we saw the loss of many music and entertainment legends around the world,” fireworks show co-producer Catherine Flanagan said. “So celebrating their music as part of Sydney New Year’s Eve fireworks displays is an opportunity to reflect on the year that has been and what the future may hold.”

Las Vegas

Brides walking to wedding chapels fielded warm wishes from strangers on the sidewalk and a cover band gave slot players a soundtrack to usher in the new year in Las Vegas. 

More than 300,000 visitors are expected to descend on Las Vegas for an extravagant party that features some of the biggest names in music and an eight-minute fireworks show launched from the tops of half a dozen casinos, CBS affiliate KLAS reports

 federal officials have ranked the celebration just below the Super Bowl and on par with the festivities in Times Square, CBS affiliate KLAS reports. FBI and Secret Service agents will work alongside local police departments that are putting all hands on deck for the big night.  

“We are very concerned about safety,” said 35-year-old tourist Jonathan Potwana, who was visiting Las Vegas from South Africa and snapped a picture with a group of uniformed officers milling outside of downtown bars. “When we see visible policing, we feel much safer.” 

The heart of the Las Vegas Strip was closed to vehicle traffic starting Saturday evening so pedestrians could stroll the famous boulevard in the misty weather that was expected to drop to the mid-40s around midnight.

Police ramped up barriers this year to prevent cars from reaching partiers, and a new county ordinance prohibited large bags, strollers, backpacks and glass bottles on the Strip for the party. Las Vegas police spokeswoman Laura Meltzer said there were no significant incidents reported as of two hours before the new year, but officers had to remind people of the bag rule, which aimed to prevent people from hiding dangerous items. 

Clark County fire officials said they took seven people from the Las Vegas Strip area to the hospital over the course of the evening, although none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening. 

A fireworks show synchronized to music - including the standard Auld Lang Syne and Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” - was planned for midnight. Revelers can watch the spectacle from unusual vantage points, including from the windows of a helicopter tour and the cabin of the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel. 

Casinos are pulling out all the stops for the holiday. Headliners at Las Vegas’ swanky nightclubs include DJ Calvin Harris, rappers T-Pain and Kendrick Lamar and artists Drake and Bruno Mars.   


In Berlin the mood was more somber than celebratory.

“I don’t like the way politics is going,” said Daniel Brandt. “Fears are being fanned and people are so angry with each other.”

The tone of public debate in Germany has become shriller over the past two years with the influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Two Israeli tourists, on a visit to the German capital, seemed at a loss when asked about their wishes for 2017. “Peace on Earth. Just happiness, really,” said Nathan and Libat, declining to give their last names.

Walking by the Reichstag, Germany’s Parliament building, Hamed Noori said 2016 had been a good year. “I came to Germany from Afghanistan,” he said. “Life is better here.”

Birgitta Bergquist, a recent retiree visiting Berlin from Sweden, said she looked forward to spending more time with her 3-year-old granddaughter. “And we hope the family stays healthy.”

Nicole Durand-Nusser, originally from France but living in Berlin for almost 50 years, said 2016 had been a difficult year: “Brexit, Trump, Erdogan - it’s all getting worse.

“I’m a convinced European and I hope Europe doesn’t collapse in 2017,” she said.

Later, police said they arrested a man who shouted “bomb, bomb, bomb” at Berlin’s massive open-air New Year’s party.

Using the hashtag “#nichtlustig” - meaning “not funny” - Berlin police tweeted Saturday that the unnamed man “is now celebrating #Welcome2017 with us.”


President Vladimir Putin invoked a bit of seasonal enchantment in his New Year’s Eve remarks to the nation. 

“Each of us may become something of a magician on the night of the New Year,” Putin said in a short televised address broadcast in the closing minutes of 2016 in each of Russia’s 11 time zones.

“To do this we simply need to treat our parents with love and gratitude, take care of our children and families, respect our colleagues at work, nurture our friendships, defend truth and justice, be merciful and help those who are in need of support. This is the whole secret,” he said.

New Year’s Eve is Russia’s major gift-giving holiday, and big Russian cities were awash in festive lights and decorations. The Moscow subway offered a special holiday train, festooned with lights and artificial greenery.

“I wish for the next year to better than this,” said rider Alexander Pisaryev.

“We are waiting for good, for peace and order,” said another, Valentina Daineka.

The Vatican

Pope Francis has called on the faithful to help young people find a place in society, noting the paradox of “a culture that idolizes youth” and yet has made no place for the young. 

Francis said during vespers marking New Year’s Eve that young people have been “pushed to the margins of public life, forcing them to migrate or to beg for jobs that no longer exist, or fail to promise them a future.”

More than responsibility, the pope said the world owed young people a debt, saying it has deprived them of “dignified and genuine work” that would allow them to take part in society, instead condemning them “to knock on doors that for the most part remain closed.” 


Temple bells echoed at midnight as families gathered around noodles and revelers flocked to shrines for the biggest holiday in Japan.

“I feel this sense of duality,” said Kami Miyamoto, 21, an economics student at Meiji University in Tokyo, who traveled home in Hakusan, Ishikawa prefecture, for the holiday.

“The world is heading toward conservative insular policies,” she said of the U.S. election, Brexit and what she believes lies ahead for elections in Europe in 2017. “We learned about how valuable it is to get correct information.”

One of the most memorable experiences for Miyamoto in 2016 was a three-week study program in South Korea. She was surprised and moved by the friendship she formed with South Korean students, and she has decided to focus her studies on relations with South Korea.

“Studying about the U.S. and Europe seems to be about looking at the past, but East Asian studies are focusing on the future,” she said.

Miyamoto’s mother was preparing soba noodles, a standard New Year’s Eve dish in Japan, except in their home it will be filled with green onions and shrimp. As the new year rolls in, the entire family, including her younger brother and sister, will drive to a nearby shrine, which, like temples all over Japan, will be filled with those praying for good fortune in the Year of the Rooster, according to the Chinese zodiac.


Residents in Beijing and Shanghai, China’s two largest cities, were passing New Year’s Eve quietly in a relative state of security lockdown, according to Chinese media reports citing police.

The Bund waterfront in Shanghai had no celebrations, authorities announced this week, while the sale, use and transportation of fireworks in central Shanghai will be prohibited altogether. Large buildings that often display light shows also stayed dark. More than 30 people died two years ago in a deadly stampede on Shanghai’s waterfront, where 300,000 people had gathered to watch a planned light show.

Beijing police also said countdowns, light shows, lotteries and other organized activities will not be held in popular shopping districts such as Sanlitun and Guomao. Beijing police advised citizens to avoid crowded areas, closely watch elderly relatives and children, and be aware of exit routes in venues.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said in his annual New Year’s Eve address that his government will continue to focus on alleviating poverty at home and resolutely defending China’s territorial rights.

South Korea

Hundreds of thousands of South Koreans ushered in the new year with a massive protest demanding the resignation of disgraced President Park Geun-hye. It was the 10th straight weekend of protests that led to Park’s impeachment on Dec. 9 over a corruption scandal.

The evening rally was to overlap with Seoul’s traditional bell-tolling ceremony at the Bosinkgak pavilion at midnight, which was also expected to be a political statement against Park.

The city’s mayor, Park Won-soon, invited as guests a man whose teenage son was among more than 300 people who died during a 2014 ferry sinking, and a woman who was forced into sexual slavery by Japan’s World War II military.

Park came under heavy criticism over the way her government handled the ferry disaster.

“So many unbelievable things happened in 2016. It didn’t feel real; if felt like a movie,” protester Lee Huymi said about the bizarre scandal that brought Park down. “So I hope 2017 brings a movie-like ending to the mess.”


For most people in India, New Year’s Eve is a time for family. In New Delhi and many other cities, newspapers are full of big advertisements for lavish parties at upscale hotels and restaurants. The big draws at the hotel parties are song and dance performances from Bollywood and television stars. 

The western city of Mumbai will host big street parties with thousands of people at the iconic Gateway of India, a colonial-era structure on the waterfront overlooking the Arabian Sea. And there was talk about money - India’s recent devaluing of its currency in an apparent effort to cut graft and tax evasion.

“2016 was boring but Modi brought about a twister near the end,” said 18-year-old student Jugal Jadhwani of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement in early November.

“It’s good for India,” he said.

It was a sentiment echoed by 42-year old Prasoon Verma.

“2016 was good and with demonetization 2017 should be good for the Indian economy and India should move to the digital age,” he said.


The Philippines’ notorious tradition of dangerous New Year’s Eve celebrations persisted after President Rodrigo Duterte delayed to next year his ban on the use of powerful firecrackers, often worsened by celebratory gunfire.

Powerful firecrackers and gunfire have maimed hundreds of people and killed some each year across the Philippines despite government crackdowns, an annual government scare campaign and efforts by officials to set up centralized fireworks displays, like on Saturday night.

Duterte’s southern Davao City hasn’t been tainted by the bloody record because of a largely successful firecrackers ban he enforced when he was still the city’s crime-busting mayor. Last month, he said he would delay his plan to replicate his Davao ban nationwide by a year because many have already invested in firecrackers and he was concerned by the impact of an abrupt ban on poor Filipinos employed in the industry.

Before New Year’s Eve, the Department of Health said Saturday that 139 people had been injured by firecracker blasts in recent days, mostly children under 15.


New Year’s is the biggest party of the year in Romania, and thousands flocked to the mountains to ski, hike and celebrate, some in the mood for fun, others anxious about global challenges in 2017. 

Former Finance Minister Daniel Daianu, traveling to the mountain town of Sinaia, told The Associated Press that Western governments should pay closer attention to the public mood.

“People are frustrated, people are resentful and people react,” he said. “Unless governments pay attention to fairness and fair play, we could see some very unpleasant surprises.”

Early Saturday, young Romanians roamed streets and trains, wearing peasant costumes and singing traditional songs about goats - a New Year’s symbol - while waving wands made of dried flowers.

One tradition was squelched this year. Police banned masked revelers in the northeastern village of Ruginoasa from staging a traditional fight between young men involving whips and bats after several people were injured a few years ago.

United Arab Emirates

In Dubai, hundreds of thousands of people watched fireworks shoot from the sides of the world’s tallest building, the 2,716-foot Burj Khalifa.

There was no repeat of last year’s excitement, when police say faulty wiring sparked a fire several hours before midnight at The Address Downtown, a 63-story skyscraper nearby. The high-rise tower still remains under repair.

Just before the fireworks, private security guards stood every 55 yards as metal barriers blocked off sidewalks to keep the streets around the Burj Khalifa clear for roaming emergency vehicles, their strobe lights flashing in the darkness.

While 2016 brought challenges across the world, those gathered to watch the fireworks in Dubai instead chose to focus on the positive.

For Ina Dumdum, 33, of Manila, Philippines, 2016 brought a new job in Abu Dhabi and greater economic security. Wearing a pink pair of do-it-yourself “Happy New Year” rabbit ears on her head, she smiled while saying she hoped for a baby in the new year. “2016 was prosperity,” she said.

Tony Ngalande, 38, of Lilongwe, Malawi, also saw success in his automobile importing business. However, “2016 was full of a lot of surprises,” he said, mentioning the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. and the British vote to leave the European Union.

Ngalande laughed when asked if those surprises could portend anything negative for the new year. “So far so good,” he said with a smile.

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