Goodbye 2009! World ready for a more hopeful 2010 - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Goodbye 2009! World ready for a more hopeful 2010

Posted: Updated:

PARIS (AP) – Fireworks exploded over Sydney's famous bridge and the Eiffel Tower prepared for its own colored-light spectacle as the world celebrated a New Year that many hope will be more prosperous and peaceful than 2009.

Revelers across the globe at least temporarily shelved worries about their future prospects to bid farewell to "The Noughties," a bitter-tinged nickname for the first decade of the 21st century playing on a term for zero and evoking the word naughty.

The financial downturn hit hard in 2009, sending many industrial economies into recession, tossing millions out of work and out of their homes as foreclosures rose dramatically in some countries.

"The year that is ending has been difficult for everybody. No continent, no country, no sector has been spared," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on national TV in a New Year's Eve address. "Even if the tests are unfinished, 2010 will be a year of renewal," he added.

Germany's leader warned her people that the start of the new decade won't herald immediate relief from the global economic ills. South Africa's president was more ebullient, saying the World Cup is set to make 2010 the country's most important year since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Other leaders focused on the positive aspects of 2009.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said 2009 had been an extraordinary year for the world — citing the inauguration of the United States' first black president and international attempts to grapple with climate change and the global financial crisis.

"The great message from 2009 is that because we've been all in this together, we've all worked together," Rudd said in a New Year's message.

Australia got the festivities rolling Thursday, with Sydney draping its skies with explosive bursts of crimson, purple and blue to the delight of more than 1 million New Year revelers.

Concerns that global warming might raise sea levels and cause other environmental problems were on the minds of some as the year ended.

Venice revelers were set to ring in the New Year with wet feet as high tide was to peak just before midnight to flood low-lying parts of the city — including the St. Mark's Square.

In winter, tourists checking into Venice hotels are regularly asked their shoe sizes so they can be fitted with boots to face the lagoon city's exceptionally high tides.

The last year also offered its reminders of the decade's fight against terrorism, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and more recently, rising militant violence in Pakistan.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, in a statement Wednesday, suggested that terrorism book-ended the decade, with the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States, and foiled plot by a Nigerian man to set off explosives on a U.S.-bound airliner on Christmas Eve.

"In late December we were reminded at this decade's end, just as we were at its beginning, that there is a terrorist threat which puts our safety and security at risk and which requires us to take on al-Qaeda and the Taliban at the epicentre of global terrorism," he said.

The American Embassy in Indonesia warned of a possible terrorist attack on the resort island of Bali on New Year's Eve, citing information from the island's governor — though local security officials said they were unaware of a threat.

More than 8,000 police and soldiers were deployed for extra security in and around Paris. The Eiffel Tower was decked out for its 120th anniversary year with hundreds of multicolored lights for a show that's more energy-saving than its usual sparkling-light display.

Despite forecasts for below-freezing temperatures, thousands were expected to gather on the banks of the River Thames in London for fireworks after Big Ben strikes midnight.

"(2009 was) like shock therapy, where people really change when something bad happens to them," said accountant Conrad Jordaan, 35.

"It was a world-changing year, a bad year in many ways, but an important year because of the economic downturn," he said, enjoying cigarettes and coffee at an outdoor cafe in London. "It will be interesting to see if it changes peoples' behavior long term."

Europe and the Americas were likely to be partying harder than Asia. Islamic countries such as Pakistan and Afghanistan use a different calendar, and China will mark the new year in February.

Still, in Shanghai, some people paid 518 yuan ($75) to ring the bell at the Longhua Temple at midnight and wish for new-year luck. In Chinese, saying "518" sounds like the phrase "I want prosperity."

Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries where New Year's Eve is not celebrated publicly. Clerics in the ultraconservative country say Muslims can only observe their faith's feasts of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. For them, any other occasions are considered innovations that Islam rejects.

Unlike many Islamic countries where pigs are considered unclean, New Year's in Austria just isn't complete without a pig-shaped lucky charm — and stalls selling the little porkers were doing good business Thursday. Some are made of marzipan or chocolate; others come in glass, wood, rubber or soap.

Herbert Nikitsch of the University of Vienna's Institute of European Ethnology said the porcine phylactery may originate from the fact that pigs represented food and sustenance for farmers in preindustrial times.

Some festivities went awry.

In the Philippines, hundreds of people were injured by firecrackers and celebratory gunfire during the celebrations. Many Filipinos, largely influenced by Chinese tradition, believe that noisy New Year's celebrations drive away evil and misfortune — but some carry that belief to extremes.

At Zojoji, one of Tokyo's oldest and biggest Buddhist temples, thousands of worshippers released clear, helium-filled balloons to mark the new year. Nearby Tokyo Tower twinkled with white lights, while a large "2010" sign glowed from the center.

Across town in Shibuya, the scene was more chaotic. The area, known as a magnet of youth culture, exploded with emotion at the stroke of midnight. Strangers embraced spontaneously as revelers jumped and sang.

Keitaro Morizame, a 24-year-old TV producer in Tokyo, expressed optimism for the new year.

"I really felt the economic downturn last year," he said. "I think the future will be brighter."

In Istanbul, Turkish authorities deployed some 2,000 police around Taksim Square to prevent pickpockets and the molestation of women that have marred New Year celebrations in the past.

Some officers were under cover, disguised as street vendors or "even in Santa Claus dress," Istanbul Gov. Muammer Guler said.

In Stonehaven, on Scotland's east coast, the fireballs festival — a tradition for a century and a half — sees in the New Year. The pagan festival is observed by marchers swinging large, flaming balls around their heads. The flames are believed to either ensure sunshine or banish harmful influences.

In contrast to many galas worldwide, the Stonehaven Fireballs Association warns those attending not to wear their best clothes — because "there will be sparks flying along with smoke and even whisky."


Associated Press writers Suzan Fraser in Ankara, Turkey, Veronika Oleksyn in Vienna, Mike Corder in The Hague, Netherlands, Daniela Petroff in Venice, Ronan Sullivan in Sydney, Jay Alabaster and Tomoko Hosaka in Tokyo, Cara Anna in Beijing, Gregory Katz in London, and Jim Gomez in Manila, contributed to this story.

Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 KFMB-TV. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.