Much of the globe celebrated the beginning of 2017 with fireworks, parties and other festivities, though many were somber in reflecting on the politics and popular culture of the past tumultuous year.
Revelers gathered in Times Square, New York City’s iconic tourist attraction, to watch the famed crystal ball mark the seconds to the new year.
New York City officials positioned dozens of dump trucks filled with loads of sand among the towering Times Square skyscrapers. The trucks are meant to act as a protective barrier as an estimated 1 million revelers joined the countdown to fireworks and confetti to mark the beginning of 2017.
President Barack Obama, in his weekly address, reflected on the past year, and his two terms in office. He ended the address by saying “and from the Obama family to yours, have a happy and blessed 2017.”
President-elect Donald Trump tweeted out his New Year’s greetings: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”
Hours earlier, New Zealand, nearby Pacific islands, Australia and Russia were among the first to ring in 2017.
One of the first prominent New Year’s celebrations to start 2017 was the annual fireworks show in Sydney, which drew a crowd of more than 1 million people, who lined the waterfront to watch a show dedicated to the late entertainers David Bowie and Gene Wilder — just two of the many celebrities who died in 2016.
Security a priority
Many countries were focused on security while anticipating big crowds at celebrations to ring in 2017.
In Istanbul, Turkey, celebrations were interrupted by an armed attack at a nightclub that killed at least 39 people.
Added security is in place in many cities after the December 19 hijacked truck attack on a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people, and other attacks during 2016.
The German capital has added concrete barriers and armored cars near the traditional Brandenburg Gate celebration venue to protect crowds from vehicle attacks.
In Dubai, hundreds of thousands of people watched fireworks launched from the Burj Khalifa, at 828 meters the world’s tallest building. The fireworks show was also streamed online.
Private security guards were stationed every 50 meters and streets were blocked off from sidewalks to keep the roads clear for roaming emergency vehicles.
In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin said each person “may become something of a magician on the night of the new year,” by treating family members, co-workers, friends and those in need with respect and mercy.
“This is the whole secret,” he said, speaking in an address broadcast near midnight, in turn, in each of Russia’s 11 time zones.
French President Francois Hollande used his televised New Year’s message to warn against the risks of rising nationalism.
At Vatican City, Pope Francis called on his followers to help young people find a place in society, speaking during vespers marking New Year’s Eve. He said young people have been deprived of “dignified and genuine work,” leaving them to “knock on doors that, for the most part, remain closed.” He said young people should be allowed to take part in society rather than be pushed to the margins of it.
Paris canceled fireworks at the Eiffel Tower again this year, but a display was staged along the Champs-Elysees, which has been fortified by armed soldiers and traffic barriers.
In central London, armed police were deployed on board underground trains for the first time. Some armed officers have protected the subway system in recent years, but this is the first time officers with guns will ride the trains with passengers traveling to and from Trafalgar Square and the banks of the Thames River to celebrate the new year.