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Global fireworks party rings in new year

NEW YORK -- Times Square erupted in joy and a shower of multi-colored confetti as New York City's famed crystal ball eased down to mark the year's final seconds and usher in 2014 on Wednesday.

A wave of spectacular firework displays boomed and glittered around the globe to ring in the New Year, from a record-shattering show in Dubai, to Sydney and Rio de Janeiro.

In New York an estimated million people, braving freezing temperatures and some camping out since morning for a good spot, joined in a chorus for the countdown to 2014.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor — a native New Yorker — activated the mechanism that sent the Big Apple's famed 5,500-kilogram flashy ball down a pole to signal the start of a new year.

Loudspeakers boomed out Frank Sinatra's signature song “New York, New York” for the first moments of 2014, and three astronauts from the International Space Station appeared on a giant screen TV to wish the crowd a happy new year.

Live music helped keep the revelers warm, from the likes of Miley Cyrus — wrapped in floor-length white fur — and Melissa Etheridge, who sang a version of John Lennon's “Imagine.”

“It's really cold but there's a lot of entertainment. It's fun!” said Sara, a New Jersey woman who arrived at seven in the morning for a front row spot.

Boisterous parties in other U.S. cities followed as the start of the new year swept west.

A jubilant crowd gathered in Jackson Square in New Orleans, and some 70,000 partied with the veteran country music star Hank Williams Jr. in Nashville, Tennessee.

Around the world, fireworks lit up the skies to welcome the New Year.

The Middle East hub of Dubai shattered the world record for the largest-ever pyrotechnic display with a show involving more than half a million fireworks.

The glittering display lasted around six minutes and spanned 100 kilometers (60 miles) of the coast, focusing on the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest tower at 830 meters.

People crowded below snapping pictures of the thundering skies.

“It's amazing,” said May Hinnawi, a 35-year-old Syrian. “I will tell my children and grand children I was here to see this event.”

Some 2.3 million thronged Rio de Janeiro's Copacabana Beach for a raucous celebration involving some 24 tons of fireworks.

Europe joined the party with a giant fireworks salvo in London.

Huge cheers went up as parliament's clock tower chimed in 2014, as people packed the banks of the River Thames to watch the pyrotechnics at the London Eye observation wheel.

About 50,000 took part in “the world's first multi-sensory fireworks display,” when peach snow, edible banana confetti and orange-scented bubbles descended on a section of the crowd.

Across Europe, Berliners partied at the Brandenburg Gate and thousands of cheering Spaniards in Madrid saw in 2014 by gobbling down twelve grapes — one with each clock chime — in a New Year tradition.

Hundreds of thousands thronged the Champs Elysees in Paris, although celebrations were marred by the fatal stabbing of a 20-year-old man by a gang of thieves in the Trocadero Gardens near the Eiffel Tower.

One man was killed by fireworks in France and another in the Netherlands.

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Revelers cheer under falling confetti at the stroke of midnight during the New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 1. (AP)

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