Ball drops in NYC's Times Square, ushering in 2014

Ball drops in NYC's Times Square, ushering in 2014

A sea of horn-tooting, hat-wearing revelers cheered and some even kissed as the famed crystal ball dropped in a freezing New York City's Times Square to ring in 2014, capping a world-wide wave of celebrations that included a dazzling 30-minute fireworks show in Dubai and a deluge of confetti in London that tasted as good as it looked.

Bronx-born US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor led the 60-second countdown and pushed the button that unleashed the shimmering orb with 2,688 crystals, a role usually filled by the New York City mayor.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg, on his last day in office, was sitting the celebration out after 12 years on the job, while newly elected Mayor Bill de Blasio took the oath of office just after midnight at his Brooklyn home.

Kerrie McConaghy, 20, a university student visiting Times Square from Armagh, Ireland, was dancing and jumping up and down, donning a big blue top hat.

"It's unbelievable here," she said. "The lights, seeing the ball, hearing the music, all the people. It's amazing." "TV doesn't do this justice," she said. "You have to be here to believe it."

The annual New York celebration, which this year featured performances from artists such as Miley Cyrus, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Blondie, has become part endurance sport because post-Sept. 11, 2001 security measures force spectators into pens at least 12 hours in advance, with no food, warmth or bathrooms.

"We've got adult diapers. We're wearing them right now," said 14-year-old Amber Woods, who came with friends from New York City's suburbs to experience the event for the first time. They entered their corral at 10 a.m. (local time) yesterday. 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 ball drop. In 2009, the cold was so bad, she got hypothermia. Her legs swelled up like balloons.

Merrir was 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."

On the other side of the Atlantic, London welcomed 2014 with a mixture of futuristic fireworks and torch-lit tradition. The city's mayor said this year's explosive display came packed with peach-flavored snow, edible banana confetti and orange-scented bubbles. The evening also included scratch-and-sniff programs, LED wristbands and fruit-flavored sweets.

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