Biggest New Year's in New York Ever

New Year's Eve 2000 shaping up as biggest in New York City's history

With scores of once-in-a-lifetime events including the just-announced First Night New York City 2000 and industry analysts predicting the highest hotel occupancy rates in recent memory, New York is ablaze with millennial excitement -- and preparations are on target for the biggest New Year's Eve party ever.

According to estimates from PricewaterhouseCoopers, 85% of Manhattan's hotels will operate at 100% occupancy on December 31, 1999, up from last year's more typical level of 70%. This year's three- and four-night minimum-stay requirements at most hotels mean the city will be humming with even more visitors than usual in the days surrounding the Big Event as well.

``New York City is already the New Year's Eve capital of the world,'' said Cristyne Lategano, president & CEO of NYC & Company -- the Convention & Visitors Bureau in a press release. ``For the millennium, we're anticipating the biggest New Year's party ever, with visitors from around the world flocking to hundreds of new and exciting events -- many of which are low-cost or free.''

Details have just been released for First Night New York City 2000, a low-cost, non-alcoholic New Year's Eve festival filled with dancing, live music, magicians, arts and crafts, puppeteers and storytellers as well as food and refreshments.

The family celebration will take place throughout all five boroughs, with headquarter locations at Lincoln Center (Manhattan), the Bronx Zoo, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center (Staten Island), Grand Army Plaza (Brooklyn) and Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, the site of the 1939 and 1964 World's Fairs (Queens).

While Times Square is always the focus of the final countdown, this year's Times Square 2000 will be the largest party in the square's 95-year history. The 24-hour extravaganza will feature live hourly video feeds from each New Year's celebration around the world. At the stroke of midnight, millions of revelers will watch the new Waterford crystal ball drop and the accompanying light show and special effects.

Other New Year's Eve events throughout the city include a gala performance of Die Fledermaus at the Metropolitan Opera House; a New Year's Eve Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden; millennium dinner cruises on Circle Line and World Yacht featuring a spectacular Grucci fireworks display in New York Harbor; a black-tie party aboard the USS Intrepid; century-beating menus, music and dancing at The 21 Club and other fine restaurants; and even a Millennium Midnight Run thr