But parts of Europe held scaled-back festivities and street parties, the mood was restrained — if hopeful — for a 2013 that is projected to be a sixth straight year of recession amid Greece's worst economic crisis since World War II.
Festivities were canceled across New Delhi, the Indian capital, amid days of mourning and reflection about women's safety after a rape victim died on Saturday.
In Times Square, some revelers checked their cellphones for news of lawmakers' tentative deal to skirt the so-called fiscal cliff, a combination of expiring tax cuts and spending cuts that threatened to reverberate globally. The U.S. Senate approved a bill to avert the cliff well after midnight, though a vote in the House was pending Tuesday or Wednesday.
The recent elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., and the devastation from Superstorm Sandy also mingled amid the memories of 2012.
"This has been a very eventful year, on many levels," Denise Norris said as she and her husband, the Rev. Urie Norris, surveyed the Times Square crowd waiting for the countdown show with Ryan Seacrest as host.
Seacrest remembered Clark and his legacy, saying it was one that would be continued, and that Clark himself had told him: "Seacrest, the show must go on."
Yvonne Gomez, 53, a physician from Grand Forks, N.D., glowed as she and her husband, 63-year-old potato farmer Gregg Halverson, took in the festivities in New York.
"I couldn't begin the new year in a more beautiful way," she said. "I married him two weeks ago and here we are in the middle of Times Square celebrating the new year — two widowers who found each other."
For Elvis Rivera, of Manhattan, who stopped by Times Square to take photos, 2012 a death and job losses in his family. How did he feel about its end?
"Relieved," Rivera said.
Associated Press writers Hannah Drier in Las Vegas; Colleen Long in New York; Aye Aye Win in Yangon, Myanmar; Silvia Hui in London, and Ashok Sharma in New Delhi contributed to this report.
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