• New Year’s Eve brings tests of endurance, imagination
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     | January 01,2014
     
    AP Photo

    Fireworks explode over the Jumeirah Palm Island at midnight to celebrate the New Year in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

    NEW YORK — Crowds jammed New York’s Times Square on Tuesday to ring in 2014, braving bone-chilling cold and ultra-tight security in expectation of seeing Miley Cyrus, a final countdown from a U.S. Supreme Court justice and the drop of the shimmering crystal ball.

    The gathering of horn-tooting, hat-wearing humanity that filled the Crossroads of the World was part celebration, part endurance sport because post-9/11 security measures force spectators into pens at least 12 hours in advance, with no food, no warmth and no place to go to the bathroom.

    “We’ve got adult diapers. We’re wearing them right now,” said 14-year-old Amber Woods, who came with friends from the New York City suburbs to experience the event for the first time. They entered their corral at 10 a.m. For nourishment, they brought lollipops and popcorn. For the cold, they did a lot of jumping in place.

    “Every time, I say it’s the last. But then I come back,” said Yasmina Merrir, a 42-year-old Washington, D.C., resident attending her fourth Times Square celebration. In 2009, the cold was so bad, she got hypothermia. Her legs swelled up like balloons, she said.

    She was also fasting and not drinking anything to deal with the lack of restrooms. As for the cold, she recommended vigorous dancing for as long as you can stand on your feet.

    “At a point,” she said, “your brain is not working anymore.”

    Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a New York City native, was to lead the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button to drop the ball.

    New York’s midnight celebration came as millions welcomed the new year in cities around the world, including jubilant events in London, where the fireworks came packed with edible confetti, and Dubai, which attempted to stage the world’s largest fireworks display.

    Britain welcomed 2014 with a mixture of futuristic fireworks and torch-lit tradition. For those in London, the New Year offered the opportunity to taste the fireworks.

    The city’s mayor — in conjunction with telecommunications company Vodafone — said this year’s explosive display came packed with peach-flavored snow, edible banana confetti and orange-scented bubbles. The multisensory event included scratch-and-sniff programs, LED wristbands and fruit-flavored sweets.

    In Dubai, a Persian Gulf city known for glitz, glamour and over-the-top achievements like the world’s tallest skyscraper, officials sought to break another record by creating the largest fireworks show.

    The Dubai skyline was a canvas for a dazzling 30-minute show. The display culminated with six minutes of fireworks that engulfed the city’s man-made, palm-shaped island, with its fronds and trunk shimmering in thousands of lights.

    Organizers had promised that the fireworks would form a flying falcon, a sunrise and the United Arab Emirates flag. It was not immediately clear if the promised designs or world record had been achieved.

    The effort attempted to surpass the record held by another Gulf Arab state in just the first 60 seconds. Kuwait has held the record since last year, when it fired more than 77,000 fireworks in a display lasting more than an hour.

    Guinness World Records officials were on hand to measure the scale of Dubai’s event, which needed to be longer than five minutes to qualify.

    More than 260 people were injured by firecracker blasts and celebratory gunfire in the Philippines, a nation marking the end of a year of disasters, including a Nov. 8 typhoon that left more than 6,100 dead and nearly 1,800 missing.

    “Many here are welcoming the new year after losing their mothers, fathers, siblings and children, so you can imagine how it feels,” said village chief Maria Rosario Bactol of Anibong community in Tacloban, the city worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan. “I tell them to face the reality, to move on and stand up, but I know it will never be easy.”

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