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Revelers usher in 2014 with fireworks, festivities

Updated: 2014-01-01 16:25
( Agencies)

NEW YORK - From Sydney to Dubai, revelers welcomed 2014 with extravagant fireworks displays, while London celebrated by spraying clouds of fruit-flavored mist and San Francisco and Seattle planned large outdoor festivities.

In New York, hordes of people, many decked out in cartoonish hats, waving balloons and ringing bells, faced frigid temperatures and heightened security in Times Square for the annual New Year's Eve street party.

Crowds heard musical performances by Miley Cyrus and Melissa Etheridge, who performed the Beatles song "Imagine," and then saw the ritualistic dropping of the New Year's Eve ball, which was followed by music and a sea of confetti that filled Midtown Manhattan.

US Supreme Court Justice and New York native Sonia Sotomayor helped to usher in 2014 by pushing a button to signal the lowering of the 11,875-pound, crystal-encrusted ball and leading a 60-second countdown.

Other performers included hip-hop artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.

In outer space, NASA astronauts prepared a message from crew members on board the International Space Station orbiting the globe, sending greetings to the Times Square crowd.

The celebrations were not without violence, however.

Several hours before the ball dropped in Times Square, two men were slashed at a nearby bus station in what a Port Authority spokesman said was a dispute over tickets. Both victims were taken to a local hospital for treatment of non-life threatening wounds.

There was no crystal ball for Brasstown, in the mountains of North Carolina. At midnight it held its 20th New Year's Eve "possum drop" - in which a caged opossum is displayed in a Plexiglas container for spectators.

"If New York can drop a ball... then we can lower the opossum," organizers explained on their website.

The event got a last-minute go-ahead after a judge refused a plea by animal-rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to stop the event.

Across the northern United States, partygoers braced for snow and freezing temperatures, said Roger Edwards, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.

"The biggest story is the extreme cold," Edwards said, pointing to lows that could reach 40 degrees below zero Fahrenheit (-40 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday night in North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

Parts of northern New England were to face temperatures near or below zero and snowfall was expected to fall across the broader Midwest, stretching from Iowa to Pennsylvania.

Revelers usher in 2014 with fireworks, festivities

New Year's Eve celebrations in Times Square

Revelers usher in 2014 with fireworks, festivities

Fireworks explode around the London Eye wheel for New Year celebrations

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