World welcomes 2023, leaving a stormy year behind

While millions watched musical acts and fire work displays along with the countdown on television from their living rooms around the world, thousands took to the streets in major cities to usher in the new year.
The world welcomed the New Year in last night with a packed party in Times Square and fireworks soaring above European capitals, while hoping for an end to the war in Ukraine and a return to post-COVID normality in Asia.

It was a year marked by the conflict in Ukraine, economic stresses and the effects of global warming. But it was also a year that saw a dramatic soccer World Cup, rapid technological change, and efforts to meet climate challenges.

After 2023 descended upon Asia, Africa and Europe, New York rang in the new year in typical style as thousands corralled themselves into pens under pouring rain in Times Square, waiting hours for the ball to drop. A 12-foot (3.7-meter) geodesic sphere made of Waterford crystal triangles slid down a pole atop a 25-story building to mark the calendar change.

Meanwhile, millions watched the accompanying musical acts and countdown on television from dry and warm living rooms around the world.

Tommy Onolfo, 40, a mechanic from Nassau County, said he wore a diaper during his drenched, 14-hour wait in Times Square, as security measures require spectators to deprive themselves of all comforts to maintain a front-row view.

“I’m a lifeguard in the summer so I’m not afraid of water at all,” Onolfo said. “I have my bathroom thing down to a science. I haven’t had to use the diaper yet. It’s just in case.”

Earlier, across the Atlantic, the London Eye turned blue and yellow in solidarity with Ukraine as fireworks saw in midnight in the British capital.

The celebration, which London’s mayor had branded the biggest in Europe, also referenced Queen Elizabeth II, who died in September, the red and white of England’s soccer team, and the rainbow colors of the LGBTQ Pride event, which had its 50-year anniversary in 2022.