Washington DC's Other Party

Quickly planned party nets $40 K Surplus and huge crowds

While most cities around the world spent millions on their New Year’s Eve parties, there was one party in Washington D.C. that actually made money. It wasn’t the party in D.C. that you saw on television, this was a party for the people, given by the people.

Organizers of Washington's "Main Street Millennium" party are just releasing the numbers from their event. The homegrown party along Constitution Avenue NW attracted a crowd of 300,000. It also netted $40,000 in profits. Amazing facts for a festival that was put together in just five months.

The District's two-day party kept true to its word that no public dollars would be spent. Instead organizers raised $465,000 in sponsorships and about $310,000 in food and drink. With all those people and all the events there were no altercations, no public drunkenness and police didn’t make a single arrest.

"This was the best of D.C.," Sandy McCall, executive director of Millennium Washington told the Washington Post. "Not even one incident of a police officer going up and saying, 'Hey, buddy, calm it down.' "

For 20 hours of celebration, the festival filled four blocks of that prominent thoroughfare with a sweeping melange of music, food and people. On one stage alone one afternoon, Celtic song followed salsa rhythms followed doo-wop beat. It was intensely up close and local, in part because of performers like Mary Jefferson, who began her blues career on U Street almost six decades ago.

The event is being praised not only by the public, but by civic leaders also. This is in sharp contrast to assessments of the New Year's Eve celebrity show at the Lincoln Memorial, which was faulted by some in-the-crowd critics as a television event catering mainly to the White House and its VIP guests. There were complaints about long lines to get onto the memorial grounds, long waits between acts to accommodate commercials, and a midnight fireworks display that, while spectacular, was too brief, with many in the audience not aware that more fireworks would be going off at 1 a.m.

The only controversy with the district’s party is a discussion on how to spend the leftover $40,000. One option is to use it to kick off a nonprofit city parks conservancy to help fund youth recreation programs.

The Millennium Washington party may have attracted so many people because two other New Year’s Eve parties were cancelled in the city, and the weather turned out to be more like spring than winter.

"When you go through as many ups and downs as we did to pull this off in five months, with as few resources as we had except for the goodwill of people, I had no doubt we'd have good weather," McCall said. "It was destiny."

(Source: Washington Post)

DATE: 1/18/2000

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