Holiday Guide: D.C. to celebrate new year in style

Those spending New Year’s Eve in Australia will witness the biggest pyrotechnics display in the South Pacific.

In London, partygoers will watch the Queen light a beacon, then sail down the Thames to officially open Britain’s Millennium Dome. More than one million people are expected to infiltrate New York’s Times Square to watch the Waterford crystal ball drop at midnight.

But people planning to spend New Year’s Eve in the nation’s capital can choose from a myriad of parties and events to mark the beginning of the new century.

According to the Nov. 29 issue of Time, about 600,000 people are expected to converge on the National Mall for a sound-and-light display at the Washington Monument, following a Steven Speilberg-produced film on the 20th century. The event will include a concert hosted by Will Smith and featuring Aretha Franklin, Chuck Berry and B.B. King. The best part of this celebration is the cost – it’s free.

People who are willing to break out their wallet for Y2K can attend the Millennium DecaDANCE at Georgetown’s Washington Harbor. The all-night party, sponsored by the Riverside Grille and Tony and Joe’s Seafood Place, will feature three live dance bands, two disc jockeys and celebrity impersonators.

The party, which also will include an open bar and a 34-item surf-and-turf and Italian buffet, costs $239 per person or $450 per couple. Guests must be 21 or over.

It’s probably the only party you really should worry about this year, restaurant owner Nicholas Cybel said. Attendees will have a view of the fireworks display from the riverfront, he said.

The members of one local band already know exactly where they will ring in 2000. Mile Post Nine, a D.C. rock band that compares itself to the Dave Matthews Band and Live, was selected to open for national headliners Fighting Gravity and Third Eye Blind.

The performance, called Capitol Countdown 2000, will take place at the MCI Center and is sponsored by the radio station D.C.101. The MCI Center will offer a 10-themed party with everything from the concert to a Vegas-like casino to a jazz and cigar lounge.

Other local bands are targeting D.C. audiences with a slew of New Year’s Eve parties. The Velveteens, a jammin’ 10 piece soul ska unit, and DJ Yada-Yada-Yada will entertain guests at the Clarendon Grill at 1101 N. Highland St. in Arlington, Va. The $75 cost includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres, a champagne toast and party favors.

The Huge, a staple of local music, will return to the Hard Rock Caf?, where the group held a party for the release of its third CD earlier in the fall. The Huge New Year’s Eve party will include live music and dancing, a champagne toast and a goodie bag. The cost is $99 plus tax.

But according to recent statistics, many people are opting for a more subdued celebration at home.

According to a Yankelovich poll for Time and CNN, 72 percent of Americans say they are not planning to do `something special’ on New Year’s Eve. Almost 70 percent of Americans said they will spend New Year’s Eve with friends and family, according to the same survey.

Whether people attend a gala ball, go to a local bar or stay at home, 82 percent of Americans surveyed said they will be awake at midnight when 2000 strikes.

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