Rose Queen Drew Washington, top left, is joined by Princesses (clockwise from top center) Kimberly Ostiller, Cynthia Louie, Stephanie Hynes, Sarah Zuno, Hanan Worku and Morgan Devaud as they ride in the 123rd Rose Parade in Pasadena, Calif., Monday, Jan. 2, 2012. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
NEW YORK — From New Zealand to New York, the world eagerly welcomed a new year Sunday with confetti-filled celebrations, glittering fireworks displays and star-studded festivities.
For one night, at least, revelers gathered and hoped for a better future, saying goodbye to a year of hurricanes, tsunamis and economic turmoil that many would rather forget.
In New York, hundreds of thousands gathered at the crossroads of the world to witness a crystal ball with more than 30,000 lights that descended at midnight.
Lady Gaga and Mayor Michael Bloomberg led the crowd in the final-minute countdown of the famed crystal-paneled ball drop.
Matheus Campos, a law student from Brazil, threw both arms in the air as the new year began in Times Square.
“It’s awesome,” he said.
Revelers in Australia, Asia, Europe and the South Pacific island nation of Samoa, which jumped across the international dateline to be first to celebrate, welcomed 2012 with booming pyrotechnic displays.
Fireworks soared over Moscow’s Red Square, crowds on Paris’ Champs-Elysées boulevard popped Champagne corks at midnight.
But many approached the new year with more relief than joy, as people battered by weather disasters, joblessness and economic uncertainty hoped the stroke of midnight would change their fortunes.
“It was a pretty tough year, but God was looking after us, and I know 2012 has got to be better,” said Kyralee Scott, 16, of Jackson, N.J., whose father spent most of the year out of work.
Some New York revelers, wearing party hats and “2012” glasses, began camping out Saturday morning, even as workers readied bags stuffed with hundreds of balloons and technicians put colored filters on klieg lights.
The crowds cheered as workers lit the crystal-paneled ball that would drop at midnight Saturday and put it through a test run, 400 feet above the street.
The sphere, decorated with 3,000 Waterford crystal triangles, has been dropping to mark the new year since 1907, long before television made it a U.S. tradition.