NEW YORK (AP) -- Hundreds of thousands of U.S. revelers have cheered the traditional ball drop in New York's Times Square, part of star-studded celebrations and glittering fireworks ushering in the start of 2012.
Revelers in Australia, Asia, South America and Europe welcomed 2012 with booming pyrotechnic displays. The South Pacific island nation of Samoa jumped across the international dateline to be first to celebrate.
Fireworks soared over Moscow's Red Square and Champagne corks popped at midnight on Paris' Champs-Elysees boulevard.
The Times Square crowd cheered as a ball with about 30,000 lights descended leading up to midnight. Lady Gaga joined Mayor Michael Bloomberg for the countdown.
Around the world, many were approaching the new year with more relief than joy. People battered by weather disasters, joblessness and economic uncertainty hoped the stroke of midnight would change their fortunes.