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Guinness World Record officials were on hand to measure the scale of Dubai's event, which needed to be longer than five minutes to qualify.
More than 260 people were injured by firecracker blasts and celebratory gunfire in the Philippines, a nation marking the end of a year of tragic disasters, including a Nov. 8 typhoon that left more than 6,100 dead and nearly 1,800 missing.
"Many here are welcoming the new year after losing their mothers, fathers, siblings and children so you can imagine how it feels," said village chief Maria Rosario Bactol of Anibong community in Tacloban, the city worst hit by Typhoon Haiyan. "I tell them to face the reality, to move on and stand up, but I know it will never be easy."
Back in New York, outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who hobnobbed with celebrities during past Times Square celebrations, was sitting out this year's festivities to spend time with family and friends. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio was to be sworn in at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday at his Brooklyn home.
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a New York native, was to lead the final 60-second countdown and push the ceremonial button to drop the ball.