Celebration without disaster a small disappointment
By 6 o’clock, eastern standard time, it was evident that nothing major was going to happen.
I had primed myself for something larger than life with the stroke of twelve and was a big ball of unbridled excitement when my friend, Anindya (who I was visiting in New York), decided to flip on the television.
What a bust. Here I was, with six hours to go, all hyped for my death and Peter Jennings is wavering side to side on the screen telling his anchors to go have another glass of champagne.
Hour by hour, my friends and I learned that the lights weren’t dying, they were simply being muted by pyrotechnics.
The eruption of the Eiffel tower was what engaged us in the world’s celebration, London is what kept us there.
London, honoring its years of struggle during World War II, thought it was a good idea to ignite the polluted Thames river. I watched the tube intently with the chorus of London Bridge is Burning Down running through my head. To no avail. Even that impending travesty was thwarted as the river would not ignite.
With that we toasted and embarked on the city.
My friend’s house was in a neighborhood in Brooklyn. His neighborhood, Park Slopes, strongly resembles one from San Francisco, with row houses lined down fertile streets. Unlike San Francisco, the houses have worn exteriors and the overall effect is a brown kind of dark environment … not unpleasant, just aged. Around every corner are the necessary shops for survival; those markets with fruit stands in front, numerous restaurants, video stores and barber shops, all modestly sized as though it was an upscale version of Mayberry.
The area had been blocked off due to Brooklyn’s little New Year’s gathering (consisting of about 100,000 people), so the pedestrians had full reign.
We were going to a New Year’s party (or gathering) at one of Anindya’s friend’s house. As we walked down the street, we were treated by a host of celebratory sounds. Noisemakers, singing and dialogues occurring between folks on the street and jubilant folks in their homes. There wasn’t a hint of bad energy to be found.
When we arrived, we discovered that we, Anindya, me and three others, comprised about half of the gathering. The environment was tame in the way that responsible adults are tame … so … at the first opportunity, we left.
We went back on the streets and by now, nearing midnight, there was a steady stream of people heading to the park where the fireworks display and laser show was to be held.
We got to the area with virtually no time remaining, but managed to grab a spot that was comfortable. The countdown began with a little more than a minute remaining in 1999.
The dynamic was fun. Not everyone wanted to count backwards from 60, so in about 10 second intervals, new groups would join. By the time it reached zero, the chant was deafening and the eruption at the end was overwhelming.
Not to be gushy, but there was a special togetherness, a united sentiment that makes world movements seem fathomable.
Amidst the chaos, I lost my posse and was alone. I was forced to just wander the streets hoping to come across something familiar.
A couple of hours passed, and I met a lot of people before I happened upon 7th Avenue and made my way back to the apartment.
It was a warm reunion and we proceeded to celebrate the new year in style.
I was so busy celebrating, I missed the televised version of America’s party.
I saw clips of Time’s Square hours before the ball dropped but never saw the excess of the real celebration.
I’m still kind of curious.
Bay Kelley is sports editor of the Sierra Sun.
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