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Partying Around The World

It was the last party of the old millennium, and the first party of the new one. It began in the Pacific early Friday with pageants and prayers, reached America when the giant crystal ball descended upon Times Square, and concluded with singing and dancing on the beaches of Samoa. And while a few high-profile events were scaled back or canceled due to fears of terrorism and Y2K disasters, most of the world's big New Year's blowouts went on as scheduled.

The result was a collage of enduring images: London's Thames turning into a river of fire, Paris' Eiffel Tower exploding with light like a July 4 sparkler, Greece's 2,500-year-old Parthenon glowing from within while fireworks burst overhead.

Here's a look at how they rang in Y2K around the world.

HONOLULUsize>color>

Hawaiians celebrated the millennium aloha-style with a fireworks display that lit up the city's famous palm-lined beaches.

While fireworks exploded over the Pacific on the main island of Oahu, thousands gathered to watch a laser light show at Honolulu's signature landmark, the Diamondhead. An extinct volcano, it frames the city's Waikiki beach.

Hawaii, the nation's 50th and newest state, was the last in the country to herald the year 2000 after Alaska and the U.S West Coast.

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Police evacuated an arts center packed with more than 2,000 people after receiving a bomb threat.

No details of the threat were immediately released and a police spokesmen said people would be allowed back into the Performing Arts Center in downtown Anchorage as soon as the threat was investigated.

There were several shows going on at once at the center, including a country and western performance and a Native American dance concert. People milled outside the building in sub-freezing weather waiting to return.

Millennium celebration plans for thousands of Alaskans went awry when it simply got too cold and foggy.

A fireworks display at a Fairbanks university was canceled when the thermometer dipped below minus 40 Fahrenheit.

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When the year 2000 finally reached the West Coast, reports CBS News Correspondent John Blackstone, San Francisco Bay was lit by fireworks launched from barges along the city's downtown waterfront. Up to 100,000 people showed up for the huge free party the city put on along the Embarcadero, the newly rebuilt plaza beside the bay.

There was music, dancing and entertainment, but no drinking and no cars were allowed anywhere near the party. Highlights of the 20th century were shown on a big screen, including footage from military conflicts, movies and sporting events.

Elsewhere, crowds of bicyclists gathered for their usual ride on the last Friday of the month. About 1,000 riders pedale from the waterfront to the Castro district and throughout the downtown area.

Every one of San Francisco's 2,300 police officers, from traffic cops to detectives, were on duty New Year's Eve, ready to respond to Y2K problems or any other kind of trouble. Plans for a huge fireworks show just inside the Golden Gate were canceled amid concerns of traffic jams and trouble on the bridge.

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About 150,000 people poured onto the Las Vegas Strip Friday night for a neon-bathed bash of booze, big name entertainment and New Year's Eve excess.

"You've got to love this city," said Justin Burns of Los Angeles. "This is insane. This is incredible. I couldn't think of a better place to be on New Year's Eve because you can do anything you want in Las Vegas. It's hard to get arrested here."

Barbra Streisand, Elton John and Bette Midler were among the headliners at Strip resorts, which had high hopes of cashing in on the New Year. Hefty prices and Y2K fears kept crowds smaller than expected, but some didn't care what a good time cost.

"The parties are expensive, but we figured if you're ever going to spend money, tonight's the night to spend it," said Tom Hessler, an insurance representative from Phoenix who was headed into a $200-a-person party at the Monte Carlo.



Photos and Video From Around The Globe!

NEW YORKsize>color>

Times Square celebrated New Year's Eve for the world in a wild street party that exploded when the millennium arrived in America. At midnight, a flashing, glittering crystal ball dropped to a countdown from a cheering, banner-waving crowd that flooded mid-town.
The 20th century passed into history with more than a million people in and around the square. The crystal ball's descent in Times Square is traditional, but the ball was newly designed for the millennium -- with 90 rotating pyramid mirrors that sent lights dancing across the crowd below.

Despite warnings of terrorism, people had come from around the world to greet 2000 in the place that Americans traditionally look to for the signal of a new year.

Some 500 performers presented music, dance, light shows and giant puppets to mark the New Year in all the world's time zones, and 17 New Year's Eves had gone by -- from New Zealand in the Pacific to Bermuda in the Atlantic -- before it was New York's turn.

The peaceful crowd swelled northward up Broadway toward Central Park, nearly 20 blocks from the ball's home at One Times Square. Four hours before midnight, police said the Times Square area was filled to capacity. They provided no official crowd count, but vetran observers said it easily exceeded 1 million.

For more on the Times Square events, see Big Apple's Millennium Bash.

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With an extravagant fireworks display set to dance up the sides of the Washington Monument as the 21st century made its way to America, President Clinton welcomed the new millennium appealing for "a new birth of freedom."

Relieved that technology was behaving itself, 300 stars from the worlds of entertainment, business, government and academia dined with Mr. Clinton, his wife and daughter at the White House and then joined the first family at a $12 million extravaganza at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial.

Mr. Clinton was the first president to bring in a new century since William McKinley did so with far less pizzazz. This president started Millennium Day by stowing Army dog tags, a public library card and other artifacts of 20th century America into a time capsule to be opened at the end of the 21st.

President Clinton found a happy omen in the beautiful winter weather -- crisp but clear. "The sun is still rising on America," he said.

Next came the star-filled and fireworks-lit party for the throngs at the foot of the Lincoln Memorial, a hallowed obelisk that stood like an exclamation mark aglow in the century's waning moments.

Meanwhile, the International Y2K Cooperation Center - the central clearinghouse for all Y2K-related problems here and abroad - was full of government workers assembled to gather data through the arrival of the millennium, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick.

No reports had been received of serious Y2K-related incidents in the first 20 countries that made the transition.

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On the river Thames, Britain watched the grand clock tower Big Ben, just visible through a new millennial wheel, reports CBS News Correspondent Mark Phillips.

The party stretched four miles up and down the river. Police anticipated a crowd of 3.5 million. At the stroke of midnight, a river of fire 200 feet high raced up the middle of the Thames at 800 miles an hour, followed by the biggest fireworks display ever seen in London.

Queen Elizabeth sailed down the river in a royal boat, stopping at Tower Bridge to light a 35-ton millennium beacon floating on the Thames. She then opened the Millenium Dome in Greenwich, which the British claim is the biggest and most expensive edifice erected for the celebration anywhere in the world.

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Pope John Paul II gave thanks Friday for the spiritual, cultural and scientific advances made during the millennium but also asked forgiveness for humanity's many sins.

"What suffering, what dramatic events!" the pontiff said. "But, also, what incredible achievements.">

The pope, wearing white vestments embroidered with gold and blue, was wheeled up the nave of St. Peter's Basilica on his new "chariot-mobile," waving to the crowds of pilgrims, tourists and Romans. The frail, 79-year-old pontiff then led a traditional year-end vespers service of prayer and song.

The pope has said in the past that the Catholic Church should see 2000 as an ideal opportunity to seek forgiveness for its own past errors, including its treatment of Jews.

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CBS.com Foreign Editor Daniel Milikow was in Paris, on the street near the center of the celebration, and he relayed this report a few minutes after midnight:

At midnight, the world belonged to Paris. The City of Light earned its name. The Eiffel Tower lit up like a giant firecracker, shooting sparks in every direction and illuminating the night like high noon. The mood of the crowd was absolute ecstasy. It was impossible to move, but nobody seemed disturbed by the close quarters. The excitement of the crowd rose like a crescendo as the clock ticked toward midnight, and erupted in a collective explosion of joy and excitement.

All evening, Paris had been electric with anticipation as 11 brightly-lit Ferris wheels defied a veil of clouds above the Champs Elysees.

At that moment, the towering wheels began a simultaneous spin on a symbolic journey into the new millennium.

By 9 p.m., the celebrations were well under way. The city's avenues were filled with crowds - some braving the winter chill for the outdoor extravaganza, others headed for pricey parties in the city's bars and restaurants. But everywhere, the sights and sounds of celebration were in the air.

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Thousands of police were on the alert as the faithful of three major religions gathered in Israel to mark the New Year.

Fears that fanatics could try to trigger an apocalypse in a city bristling with religious tension prompted one of Israel's biggest peacetime police operations. Police said that in the last two weeks they had arrested several dozen people suspected of planning extreme acts.

Security was especially tight on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives, which some Christian fundamentalists believe to be the best "front row seat" to witness the end of the world.

Midnight revelers set off fireworks on the Mount of Olives, Saturday as the clock ticked into the new millennium.

Police said they had taken one man, an American, from the Mount of Olives to a psychiatric hospital a few hours before midnight. "He was speaking insensibly, saying things no one could understand, that God had spoken to him," police spokeswoman Linda Menuhin said.

Security was also strict in Palestinian-ruled Bethlehem, the city Christians revere as the place Jesus was born, where visitors were to be treated to the release of 2,000 doves at the sroke of midnight on Manger Square and a show of fireworks. Groups of Christian pilgrims marked the new millennium with a candlelight procession in Jerusalem.

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Egypt scrapped plans to place a golden capstone on the Cheops Pyramid at the climax of the concert.

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New Year's Eve in Moscow began with an announcement that stunned Russia - the resignation of President Boris Yeltsin.

"Today, on the last day of the outgoing century, I resign," Yeltsin said on national television Friday.

Yeltsin said he was stepping down immediately because he wanted Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to succeed him. He said elections would be held in 90 days for a president to lead the nation into the new century.

Many Russians looked forward to the New Year as a respite from the nation's endless economic problems and a bloody war in Chechnya.

This New Year's Eve, however, revelers who traditionally congregate on Red Square by the walls of the Kremlin for the annual countdown to midnight faced another disappointment. The square was open only to ticket holders invited to a musical extravaganza that was broadcast on national television via satellite and hooked up to the Internet.

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India celebrated the millennium with a sigh of relief, as a weeklong hijacking ordeal of an Indian jet in Afghanistan ended peacefully.

More than 150 hostages freed from a hijacked Indian Airlines plane arrived in New Delhi hours before the new year Friday. Exhausted but smiling, passengers came down the steps of two planes that brought them from southern Afghanistan, where the hostage crisis ended.

A euphoric crowd of waiting relatives tossed bouquets of flowers into the air and garlanded the survivors of the crisis, which ended in the death of a new bridegroom.

To mark the arrival of the 21st century, the Dalai Lama and thousands of Hindu and Buddhist monks sang hymns of devotion on the banks of the holy Ganges River.

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China began the year 2000 with ceremonies glorifying the country's past and future, reports CBS News Tokyo Bureau Chief Bruce Dunning.

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Festivities are revolving around a massive millennium monument in the heart of Beijing. The sculpted "Century Altar" traces the history of the Chinese people from Peking man to the present, as the Communist Party views that history. To mark the arrival of 2000, China's president Jiang Zemin lit an eternal flame.

The celebrations included a midnight drum dance on the Great Wall, the ancient symbol of Chinese pride.

Like other nations, the new year in China was overshadowed by fears of unrest. Police imposed tight security near the monument and kept a heavy guard around Tiananmen Square, where members of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement have been staging peaceful protests against the government's suppression of their group and imposition of long prison sentences on key members.

Usually, New Year's Day on the Western calendar is a quiet day in China. For Chinese all over the world, the real event is the Lunar New Year, usually called Chinese New Year. For traditionalists, the new year won't start until Feb. 5.

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Tokyo met the new year with a gala at the capital's new seaside waterfront area, where fireworks, traditional drums, celebrities and a light show ushered in the new millennium.

Millions of Japanese streamed to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines across the country Friday to offer prayers, buy amulets and wish for good fortune as the Year of the Dragon arrives.

At Buddhist temples, monks ring out the old year by clanging their temple bells 108 times - once for each of the world's 108 evils. After that, visitors offer prayers, buy good-luck charms and throw money into offering boxes.

But security was also beefed up because of concerns over potential Y2K-bug problems and a recent wave of explosions and fires police say may be linked to ultra-leftist radical groups.

Thousands of workers were watching out for Y2K glitches, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Petersen. Computer experts at government ministries and major companies were assigned to their desks in case of problems.

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Australians had plenty of chances to warm up for the New Year as a series of fireworks displays were set off before the spectacular midnight grand finale. Bursts of colorful starts greeted the millennium, lighting up the harbor, its bridge and the Sydney Opera House.

Sydney's harbor and shoreline were jammed with hundreds of thousands of Australians cheering on the rrival of 2000.

Some people pitched tents days ago for the best view. At midnight, a $3.5 million fireworks display was triggered.

It was the biggest show in Sydney's history, dwarfing even the 1988 bicentennial celebrations.

As the display came to a climax 25 minutes into the new century, the word "eternity" lit up the bridge in huge neon letters - a reference to both the new millennium and Sydney's own past.

Acrobats danced down the roofs of the Sydney Opera House and 18 giant sea creatures - internally lit Chinese lanterns pulled by tugboats - paraded around the harbor as millennium madness gripped the city. An estimated 5,000 boats moored within view of the fireworks.

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The new millennium arrived at the stroke of midnight Friday in the Pacific, setting off a pageant on the typically uninhabited Millennium Island atoll that is part of Kiribati.

Dancers in swaying grass skirts and headdresses welcomed the millennium with a traditional call for good luck after chanting farewell to the pain of the past and heralding a new time of unity.

"Let all the world be joined with us to greet the new millennium," they sang on a tropical beach in their Micronesian language, called Kiribati. "Let us put aside all divisions....Let us unite in love and peace."

The marking of midnight on Millennium Island and the nation of Tonga started a succession of millennial celebrations in the South Pacific. The Chatham Islands - the easternmost part of New Zealand - hit midnight a few minutes later, followed by mainland New Zealand and the Pacific island nation of Fiji.

It was a worldwide spectacle: about 25 journalists were on the Kiribati island to beam the ceremony to televisions around the globe. More than a billion people were expected to watch.

While the first dawn over land was to break near remote Dibble Glacier in Antarctica at 12:08 local time (10:08 a.m. ET), Kiribati had the honor as the first country to witness the sunrise of the new millennium at 5:43 a.m. local time (10:43 a.m. ET).

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Three million people cheered in the new millennium at one of the biggest parties in German history that stretched from the center of west Berlin to the middle of the formerly communist eastern sector of the city.

A deafening festival of fireworks, lights and cheers erupted in the middle of Germany's largest city at midnight when the crowd that doubled the city's population celebrated the new year on Berlin's main east-west boulevard.

Powerful floodlights illuminated the Brandenburg Gate and other monuments such as the Reichstag building near three-mile long open-air party, while fireworks lit up the sky in a dizzying array of colors.

The celebration in Berlin was nearly overshadowed by a bitter controversy over an exhibit that was criticized by local grous because it resembled the Nazis' use of white floodlights at a 1936 rally.

But organizers silenced critics and exorcised the Nazi ghosts from the show called "Art in Heaven" by adding colors. A total of 250 high-voltage lights lit up the Victory Column with beams of blue lights that reached 18 miles into the sky.

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Millions of midnight revelers dressed in white descended on Rio's beaches, blending millennium carnival and religious mysticism in what Brazilians called the biggest New Year's party in the world.

The beat of samba drums mixed with the somber pulse of African tom-toms as worshippers threw white flowers and perfume into the waves as gifts for Yemanja, the Yoruba goddess of the sea celebrated by devotees of Afro-Brazilian religions on Dec. 31.

Police estimated that an all-time record 5 million people crowded Rio's coastline to welcome the new millennium.

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