LONG BEACH - The world didn't end Friday in a fiery apocalypse - but for many, it was still a great excuse to party.
With special themed drinks and parties, bars and hotels across the country were celebrating the end of the world Dec. 21, 2012, as predicted by the ancient Mayan calendar. Some have said the end of the 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar is doomsday, while others believe it's the start of a new era. | Photo Gallery
Either way, patrons at the Hotel Maya in Long Beach on Friday were having a blast at an "End of the World" party with Mayan dancers, a special toast, themed drinks and a "bucket list" raffle with prizes such as skydiving, sailing lessons and stock car racing.
For the waterfront Hotel Maya, which opened three years ago next to the Queen Mary, 2012 has been a year for celebrating Mayan culture.
The hotel has hosted lectures on Mayan history, Mayan movies and more.
The hotel got its name "Maya" after an architect noticed that the buildings looked like Mayan pyramids, said General Manager Kristi Allen.
"This year has been focused on everything Mayan," she said. "Our tag line for this year was 'Live life to the fullest.'"
While some say the Mayans actually believed the end of the calendar marked the birth of a new and better age, the concept didn't stop end-of-the-world paranoia across the globe.
Dozens of schools in Michigan canceled classes for thousands of students this week amid rumors of violence tied to the prophetic date.
In France, people expecting doomsday were looking expectantly to a mountain in the Pyrenees where they believed a hidden spaceship was waiting to spirit them away.
And in China, government authorities were cracking down on a fringe Christian group spreading rumors about the world's end, while preaching that Jesus had reappeared as a woman in central China.
At Hotel Maya, patrons were making light of the doomsday prophecies by sipping drinks like Hurricanes and Lava flows and dancing to songs such as "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode and Linkin Park's "In the End."
Signal Hill resident Adam Ramirez, 47, rode down the hill on his motorcycle to celebrate the event. Ramirez said he used to believe that the end of the world was near and even took some time off of work out of concern.
Ramirez said he now believes that it's simply a time of change.
"I woke up this morning and thought 'What a beautiful day, I can't wait to be here tomorrow,'" he said.
For Kim Holtz, a city employee, it was good excuse to take the day off.
"I took the day off from work 'cause I don't want to be working for the city when the world comes to an end," she said with a chuckle.
"Today I'm just gonna have fun."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.