U.S. Ushers in 2000 With a Bang
Fireworks exploded in thousands of cities as the ball falls in Times Square

By Karen Shomo

In true tradition, New York kicked off the United States New Year party with a million revelers in Times Square as a new 1,070 pound Waterford crystal ball counted down the seconds. The ball dropped and Times Square exploded in celebration with confetti, horns, dancing and a chorus of Auld Lang Syne.

New York’s party actually started at midnight South Pacific Time and continued past midnight New York time. It is the nation’s biggest bash and it lived up to its reputation. It’s hard to count heads in a sea of people who fill up block after block, but police estimate the crowd in New York exceeded a million and everything went off right on schedule and with no problems.

Terrorism fears brought 8,000 police officers to Times Square and helicopters circled overhead as the party roared through the day. The crowd was made up with people from around the world all who wanted to be a part of history, ringing in 2000 in Times Square.

As the parties around the country continued through the night just one city missed out on the whole thing. Seattle stayed home. The mayor cancelled the annual celebration at the Space Needle because of fear of terrorist actions. The fireworks at the Space Needle exploded at midnight, but there was no crowd on hand to watch, the public was banned from the area and had to watch from nearby hillsides or from in front of their television sets at home.

Elsewhere around the country celebrations took on local flares, here’s a brief look.

  • Washington D.C. celebrated with an extravagant fireworks display dancing up the sides of the Washington Monument. President Clinton hosted a group of 300 to a black-tie dinner and a guest list of who’s-who in America.
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania took its cue from the Sylvester Stallone movie "Rocky" as Rocky wannabes’ charged up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art waving their arms in the sky.
  • Roswell, New Mexico was busy searching for life in outer space. Encoded laser beams sent peaceful greetings to aliens that may be out there. They are still awaiting word back from any of those aliens.
  • Los Angeles, California took the year 2000 literally. There were 2,000 folk dancers, a 2,000-member marching band, 2,000 gospel singers, 2,000 line dancers, 2,000 drummers-well you get it! At midnight the famous Hollywood sign was lit up with fireworks exploding overhead.
  • Honolulu, Hawaii celebrated with laser lights flashing giant numerals on Diamond Head counting down the last ten seconds to midnight. Then exploding into a light show.

Several other U.S. cities took a cue from New York and decided to "drop" something. In Atlanta it was a peach, in Miami a giant orange wearing sunglasses and in Raleigh, North Carolina a giant acorn.

DATE: 1/1/2000

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