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Asian nations give enthusiastic welcome to 2013

By The Associated Press

This article was published December 31, 2012 at 8:06 a.m.

fireworks-explode-sydney-harbour-bridge-during-the-new-year-celebrations-in-sydney-australia-on-tuesday-jan-1-2013

Fireworks explode Sydney Harbour bridge during the New Year celebrations in Sydney, Australia, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013.

Auckland, New Zealand, kicks off 2013

Auckland New Zealand welcomed 2013 with a spectacular fireworks display. Auckland is close to the International Dateline and the first major city to welcome the new year. (By The Associated Press)
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— Sydney’s skyline burst with tons of exploding fireworks as revelers cheered in the new year from the city’s crammed harbor in the world’s first major celebration for 2013.

The enthusiastic welcome to 2013 was continuing on a grand scale across Asia.

Increasingly democratic Burma is having a public countdown for the first time. Jakarta plans a huge street party befitting Indonesia’s powering economy.

The buoyant economies of the Asia-Pacific are prepared to party with renewed optimism despite the so-called fiscal cliff threatening to reverberate globally from the United States and the tattered economies of Europe.

Celebrations were planned around the world, with hundreds of thousands expected to fill Times Square in New York City to watch the drop of a Waterford crystal-studded ball.

Major cities across austerity-hit Europe were to burn off part of their battered budgets in spectacular fireworks displays, although some municipalities — including the Cypriot capital, Nicosia — canceled their celebrations in light of the economic crisis. Nicosia said $21,000 saved from the canceled event will be given to some 320 needy schoolchildren.

Sydney’s balmy summer night was split by 7 tons of fireworks fired from rooftops and barges, many cascading from the Sydney Harbor Bridge, in a $6.9 million pyrotechnic extravaganza billed by organizers as the world’s largest.

Eager revelers camped Sunday night to get the best vantage points.

In Hong Kong, this year’s $1.6 million fireworks display is said to be the biggest ever in the southern Chinese city. Police expected as many as 100,000 people to watch.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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