Millions of New Year's Eve revelers planned to ring in 1986 Tuesday with fireworks in Boston and New Orleans, the slow descent of the Big Apple in Times Square and Peach Bowl parties in Atlanta.
A quarter of a million people were expected at Times Square in New York. At the Waldorf Grand Ballroom, Lionel Hampton's band played, but the spirit of the late Guy Lombardo lived in the memories of generations who danced to his music on the storied dance floor.
In Washington, about 100,000 revelers were expected to usher in 1986 with a celebration complete with fireworks, rock 'n' roll, bells and the lowering of a giant stamp at midnight at the Old Post Office Pavilion just blocks from the White House.
Aiming at New York
"Times Square has more of a history, tradition. But we're gaining on them," Mayor Marion Barry Jr. said. "We're going to outdo New York. We think we might just take over and become the best and single event."
President and Mrs. Reagan were in Palm Springs to celebrate with millionaire Walter H. Annenberg and other old friends from the worlds of Hollywood and business.
The New Year's Eve Peach Bowl game in Atlanta between Illinois and Army touched off a round of parties in the city's bars, lounges and homes as football fans poured into the city.
In New Orleans, fireworks were set up on barges in the Mississippi River to be shot off at midnight with ships blowing whistles and foghorns.
About 450 people had reservations aboard the General Jackson showboat for the paddle-wheeler's New Year's Eve cruise on the Cumberland River near Nashville, Tenn.
Boston expected more than 300,000 people for its 10th "First Night" celebration beginning in early afternoon with a children's festival and ending with a fireworks display over Boston Harbor just before midnight.
In Rochester, N.Y., organizers hoped to break the world record for the largest outdoor kazoo chorus, set last month by 40,000 fans at a Vanderbilt University football game.
Perhaps the most expensive party in New York was the $2,000-per-person bash at the Essex House hotel, where Julio Iglesias and Regis Philbin were performing in the Casino on the Park Ballroom. Tickets entitled 300 big spenders to a caviar-and-champagne party, a five-course dinner, a late-night snack, overnight accommodations and brunch on New Year's Day.
About 185 senior citizens rang in 1986 at a retirement home in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park at 6 p.m.--midnight Greenwich Standard Time. There was a phone link with Big Ben in London and David Prior, the duty press officer for the Palace of Westminster, which houses the clock, was to announce the stroke of midnight from the palace.
Elsewhere in Chicago, 79 people paid $104 each to watch a troupe of actors called "Homicide, Ltd.," perform a whodunit aboard a chartered Chicago Transit Authority elevated train. The audience had to discover the murderer before the ride ended at 1 a.m. today.
In Seattle, a booze-free celebration was canceled for lack of interest. After mailing 35,000 invitations to donors and volunteers, the Union Gospel Mission had only 36 takers for the non-alcoholic party. "If we had received 200 reservations, we would have gone ahead with it," mission director Steven Burger said.