In truth, last year's festivities had its own share of flops. That was especially true in Los Angeles, which greeted the New Year with a resounding thud. Besides the lack of a blockbuster public event, there were many empty restaurant tables and vacant hotel rooms here, as there were in some other major cities.
"Keep in mind that people wouldn't pay big bucks for the millennium parties last year," Foxman said. "Hotels and restaurants tried to double and triple their prices because of the 'turn of the century' thing going on, and not too many people bought into it."
This time around, the celebrations--or lack thereof--will be on a city-by-city basis. Denver should be active because the streets were almost deserted last year. With post-Super Bowl plunder fresh in civic memory, an army of police officers was dispatched to keep a lid on raucous crowds, dampening the celebratory mood into nonexistence. To make up this year, the city has even hired the fireworks expert who engineered the spectacular Paris show last year.
Seattle, meanwhile, isn't doing much to make up for last year, when the city was virtually shut down for fear of riots like those weeks earlier protesting the World Trade Organization, coupled with fears of terrorist bombers.
This year, though, the city's Cabaret de Paris is throwing a "Real Millennium New Year's Eve Gala," jokingly aimed at "those highly accurate mathematician, astrology and History Channel types."
Back in New England, De Tray isn't about to go out and mingle with New Year's Eve drunks. He'll stay home as usual. Ditto for attorney Scott in Los Angeles, who will adhere to his New Year's Eve tradition of dressing up in a tux and cooking dinner for his formally clad wife.
And then there is Jim Bergevin, who headed up a small band of the faithful called the Real Millennium Group. His main complaint these days is that the beginning of the millennium will go unnoticed.
"My feeling is that the media has completely ignored the whole thing, especially television," said Bergevin, the manager of the 12-lane Slocum's Bowl-O-Drome in Lawrenceville, N.J. "They've completely ignored the truth."
And how will Bergevin spend the beginning of the real millennium? The same way he did last year: hosting an open bar and buffet at the bowling alley. All you can eat and drink for $60, bowling extra.
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An Opinion From a Century Past
"We have uniformly rejected all letters, and declined all discussion upon the question of when the present century ends as it is one of the most absurd that can engage the public attention, and we are astonished to find it has been the subject of so much dispute, since it appears to be perfectly plain. The present century will not terminate till January 1, 1801, unless it can be made out that 99 are 100. Eighteen centuries are 1800 years, then how can 18 centuries be completed till the year 1800 has expired? What is the meaning of a century, but a clear distinct series of 100 years? How can 100 be completed by 99? . . . We shall not pursue this question further, nor should we now have said so much upon it, had not several applications been made for our opinion. It is a silly, childish discussion, and only exposes the want of brains of those who maintain a contrary opinion to that we have stated."
--From the London Times, Dec. 26, 1799