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Asia, Europe and New York City Ring in the New Year

Massive crowds in New York City, Europe and across Asia welcomed 2009 with displays of fireworks and large celebrations.

At New York's Times Square a large crystal ball was dropped as revelers cheered and braved brisk cold winds. At the stroke of midnight, confetti fell and balloons lifted into the air.

Revelers in London, Paris and Sydney, Australia celebrated the New Year with fireworks and outdoor celebrations.

In Rome, Pope Benedict called for greater sobriety and solidarity in 2009, as the world struggles with economic and social problems. The pope is expected to celebrate a Mass on New Year's Day, which the Roman Catholic Church celebrates as its World Day of Peace.

Sydney, Australia was the world's first major city to ring in 2009, showering its simmering harbor with fireworks that drew cheers from more than a million people.

Many people around the world are eager to say goodbye to 2008, which has been tarnished by the global economic meltdown. Celebrations in some cities were more subdued, while in other places, they did not take place at all.

In Greece, some violence was reported, an echo of recent riots over the shooting death of a teenager.

In the Philippines, a grenade blast wounded more than 20 New Year's Eve revelers in a park.

Indian authorities threw a security blanket around the financial capital, Mumbai, following November's terrorist attacks that left more than 170 people dead.

Festivities were muted in China, which rings in the Lunar New Year later in January. The Associated Press reports that Malaysia, mindful of its shaky economy, opted not to sponsor celebrations at all.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.