"I wouldn't have missed this for the world," said Clark, 76, introducing a performance by Mariah Carey. "I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It's been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I'm getting there."
In, four months after Hurricane Katrina, residents rang in 2006 with a jazz band funeral march in memory of those who died, and numerous concerts, including one by folksinger , who had a hit decades ago with "The City of New Orleans" and came to town after the hurricane to raise money to help musicians.
"Thank God it's over!" said Guthrie of 2005, a sentiment also voiced by New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, who welcomed the New Year with a heartfelt: "I'm so ready for 2006."
The French Quarter crowd - numbering in the thousands but smaller than usual - was an odd mix of locals, volunteers, contract workers and the occasional tourist, but everyone was celebrating.
"It looks like Hurricane Katrina never came by, looking at the faces," said Gary Washington, a 37-year-old merchant marine who was strolling down Bourbon Street, drink in hand.
"This is like the first night I've seen New Orleans like I remember," said Terry Cooney, a 50-year-old Red Cross Worker from New Jersey. "Everybody's in a party mood."
"New Orleans is back open, so come on down and start visiting. That's the word to get out," said Brian Kern, an organizer of the festivities, which were paid for by businesses because the city's tax income was wiped out by the storm.
In Reno, the city's worst flooding since 1997 forced the postponement of the fireworks show – rescheduled for Sunday, weather permitting. But locals and tourists counted down at midnight just the same, including in the casinos, which remained open.
Just about everywhere, as the sound of party horns dies out, and the pounding of headaches revvs up, there are the New Year's resolutions to contend with.
Heather Clark of Detroit says this time she means it: she's going to get healthier. Detroit resident Leonard Armstrong takes it a step farther. He even bought a health club membership.
Isabele Beckerman of New Jersey also resolves to loose weight in 2006. But her big hope is that "the Yankees will finally win the championship."
Danielle Maisch of Long Island, New York, also expresses special hopes for the year. She says she's getting married in January so she's "making resolutions to have a happy and successful marriage." She also says she hopes "for a lot of peace and lot of comfort for those who have been so disadvantaged" in 2005.
Celebrations worldwide were generally jubilant, in contrast with last year when the devastation of the Indian Ocean tsunami led many countries and individuals to cancel festivities.
Hundreds of American troops ingot a special show from "American Idol" singer Diana DeGarmo and other entertainers at Camp Victory in Baghdad. There was very little letup in the level of violence, with 20 people killed in bombings and shootings in Iraq on the last day of 2005, and at least eight car bombs inaugurating the new year, with no one killed in those except one suicide bomber.
More than 2 million Brazilians jammed Rio de Janeiro's famed Copacabana Beach for the largest fireworks extravaganza in the city's history: nearly 25 tons of pyrotechnics.
London saw many subway workers walk out at noon, but staff not affiliated with the striking RMT union kept much of the sprawling Tube network running.
Thousands of partygoers gathered in Trafalgar Square and outside the Houses of Parliament, to hear Big Ben chime at midnight. "We wanted to come because it's a once in a lifetime thing," said Carol Joyce, 43, who traveled from nothern England for the festivities and was unaffected by the strike.
Revelers lined the banks of the River Thames to watch a massive fireworks display set against the backdrop of the giant, futuristic Ferris wheel, the London Eye.
In France, 25,000 police were on alert, fearing a repeat of arson attacks and rioting that swept the country for three weeks starting in late October.
"The orders I have given are very strict," said French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy. "When there are delinquent acts there will be arrests. Those guilty must be accountable for their acts."
Burning cars is common in troubled French neighborhoods — dozens of vehicles are set afire on an average night and in recent years the figure has risen to about 300 on New Year's Eve. But police were especially cautious this year and a state of emergency imposed during the rioting was still in effect.
Rowdy revelers in France torched 425 vehicles overnight in scattered New Year's Eve unrest, compared to 333 last year, the national police chief said Sunday.
Michel Gaudin also said there were no major clashes between youths and police overnight. Every New Year's Eve, youths set several hundred cars ablaze in France as festivities get out of hand. Police were especially cautious this time because of the wave three weeks of rioting and car burning that started in late October.
In New York City, New Year's Eve revelers started showing up early in the day, enduring a few hours of snow and sleet, in order to snag good spots in Times Square to watch the ball drop.
Revelers passed through security checkpoints where police searched bags. Since security experts say big cities across the globe are targets for terrorism, police have become just as much a part of the New Year's Eve tradition as the confetti, crystal ball and crazy crowds.
The theme of this year's Times Square celebration was to honor New Yorkers who aided in recovery efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Workers from city agencies who joined in the relief and jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis were guests of honor.
In Australia, revelers jostled for vantage points around Sydney's harbor to watch a spectacular fireworks show at midnight.
"You can't beat the setting," said Andrew Coomer, a 21-year-old English tourist who camped with his family outside the Sydney Opera House for 12 hours to catch the fireworks.
More than 1,700 police officers were on duty for the night and police helicopters and boats buzzed across the harbor — a huge presence aimed at preventing a repeat of racial violence that broke out in the city's southern beachside suburbs earlier this month.
Suspected Islamic militants tried to make a statement in Indonesia, setting off a bomb packed will nails in a busy market, killing eight people and wounding 45. The market in Palu on Indonesia's Sulawesi Island, which has been plagued by religious violence and terrorism by radical Muslims, is frequented by Christians.
In Bangladesh, 5,000 security officers searched cars and patrolled the streets of the capital to thwart possible violence in the wake of a series of bombings blamed on Islamic extremists that have killed at least 26 people.
For the millions left homeless by the 2005 South Asian quake, the new year is expected to begin with heavy snow and rain. Relief agencies warned that the harsh Himalayan winter could hamper aid deliveries and create conditions ripe for illnesses.
Pakistan's army and aid workers have been using helicopters, trucks and mules to get tents, clothes, food and other provisions to survivors since the Oct. 8 quake killed an estimated 87,000 people and destroyed the homes of 3.5 million others.
In Japan, police expect some 14,000 people to climb the 12,387-foot, snowcapped Mount Fuji and other mountains before dawn to see the first sunrise of the new year.
A more sedentary holiday pastime occupied many other Japanese - watching professional wrestling on TV — and many rang in the new year glued to their sets.
In the Philippines, two people were reported killed by bullets fired during celebratory gunfire and two others died after eating a popular sparkler that looks like candy. Firing guns in the air is a traditional way for Filipinos to welcome the new year.