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Corks pop, balls drop, bands be-bop to top off year

Ho, ho, hey -- time to start thinking about New Year's plans

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In this story:

Fireworks, First Night

Parades, polar bears

The Bowls

Disney World

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



(CNN) -- The packages have been ripped open, the house is littered with yuletide trash, and you're lapping up the dregs of that eggnog. Must be time to start planning for the next big holiday bash.

Last year was supposed to be the New Year's to end all New Year's fetes, but there will be no deficit of sizzling fireworks and errant champagne corks this time around. And even better, no stressing out over some Y2K apocalypse.

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  RELATED STORIES
  • Champagne for the holidays (and beyond!)
  • Adding to the holiday spirit
  •  
      GOODBYE 2000!
    Times Square kiss
    Click for a photo gallery of last year's celebrations

     
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    Whether you're planning to hit the road or stay close to the sofa, here's a glimpse of some of the happenings over New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

    Fireworks, First Night

    You've seen it on TV, now see what it's like to be among the hundreds of thousands of crazed folks crammed into New York's Times Square, watching that glittering ball descend on New Year's Eve.

    Revelers actually start arriving around 5 p.m., and the area between 42nd and 47th streets at Broadway/Seventh Avenue is closed off to traffic. The raising of the ball starts at 6:05 p.m., and 35 giant searchlights flick on around 8 p.m.

    Before long, crews pass out pompoms and confetti as two giant, custom- designed puppets, Father Time and Baby Time, parade through Times Square. At midnight, the 1,070-pound ball ushers in the New Year, descending 77 feet in 60 seconds.

    Las Vegas, Nevada, caught a little flak last year for what critics called an underwhelming New Year's Eve celebration, so it's promising to do better this time around.

    The Las Vegas Big Bang New Year's 2001 culminates at midnight with what's being touted as the most spectacular New Year's fireworks show in the history of the Vegas Strip.

    More than 13,000 shells will explode from 13 sites along a four-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard during the 10-minute, $500,000 show.

    The resorts will be throwing their own bashes, too, including "The Real Millennium" celebration at Star Trek: The Experience at the Las Vegas Hilton.

    For $200, trekkies will be beamed aboard the USS Enterprise for a cocktail reception, followed by dinner and dancing to the Constellation band. Among the party favors: a commemorative Star Trek: The Experience champagne flute.

    Not your (warp) speed? Inside the clubs, Van Morrison, The Goo Goo Dolls and James Brown are among the performers booked for New Year's Eve shows.

    Those wanting a change of pace from the usual New Year's ribaldry might try First Night festivities. Since its inception in Boston, Massachusetts, 24 years ago, First Night has snowballed into more than 200 celebrations in communities across the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

    The event attempts to foster public appreciation of the arts while providing an alcohol-free alternative to New Year's Eve's traditional champagne- fueled revelry. Check out the First Night Web site to see if there's a First Night in a town near you.

    Parades, polar bears

    One of the classic New Year's events, of course, is the Tournament of Roses Rose Parade on January 1. The parade's elaborate, professionally made floral floats routinely outclass some of their gaudier imitators on the 5.5- mile trip through the streets of Pasadena, California.

    If you'd like to catch the 52-float, 24-band parade in person, you can try for grandstand tickets. Or get out there early to jostle for a curbside spot, where you might catch a glimpse of NBC's Tom Brokaw, this year's grand marshal.

    Another New Year's celebration that's steeped in tradition is the Mummer's Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where some 12,000 participants in fanciful costumes, folks in feathers and sequins and beads, oh my! proceed along a nine-block stretch from 5th and Market streets to City Hall. If you want to go, just dress warm and park yourself along the curb.

    To the south, the Orange Bowl Parade is expected to draw 250,000 people to Miami, Florida's Biscayne Boulevard on December 31. Or for a more laid-back, less wholesome parade experience, check out the one that won't be shown on TV.

    Real Miamians flock to the King Mango Strut, an alternative parade in Coconut Grove (this year's theme is "2001: A Spaced Out Odyssey") featuring such favorites as the Marching Freds, the Precision Briefcase Drill Team and a variety of irreverent newcomers including the INS Synchronized Pre-Dawn Raiders.

    Just because you can't make it to the Sunshine State for New Year's doesn't mean you can't do a little frolicking on the beach. Across the United States, slightly skewed exhibitionists will take part in the annual rite of submerging themselves in the icy surf.

    The hijinx happen just about anywhere there's a mercury mark below 50 degrees and a body of water. But our money's on New Hampshire -- the Hampton Polar Bear Club meets at noon on January 1 at Hampton Beach, right across from the Old Lady by the Sea statue.

    The Bowls

    In the old days, viewers got to nurse their New Year's Eve hangovers watching all the big college football games on the tube. But big-money TV contracts and the Bowl Championship Series brought an end to all that, scattering them across several days.

    This year, the kickoff for the so-called championship game won't come until January 3 at Miami's Pro Player Stadium, when Florida State and Oklahoma face off in the Orange Bowl.

    On January 2, the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, Louisiana, features the first showdown in 13 years between the Miami Hurricanes and their formal rivals upstate, the Florida Gators.

    As for New Year's Day, the best matchups include Notre Dame and Oregon State in the Fiesta Bowl; Purdue and Washington in the Rose Bowl; and Clemson and Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl.

    And let us not forget the NFL playoffs, which also get under way before New Year's, with four wild-card matchups scheduled for December 30 and 31. Hut, hut, watch!

    Disney World

    On New Year's Day, Disney World wraps up its 15-month Millennium Celebration at EPCOT, which has included such daily events as the fireworks and laser light show "IllumiNations 2000" and the "Tapestry of Nations," a parade featuring 120 colorful, giant puppets.

    There will be plenty of other revelry through the park, including "New Year's Eve at Downtown Disney" on Pleasure Island, featuring fireworks and performances by Duran Duran, Foreigner and Chic.

    For a more old-fashioned celebration, $300 will get you into a 1940s-themed dance at Disney's BoardWalk, where a swing orchestra, a gourmet dinner and an open bar await.



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    Rose Parade: Hope floats that flowers stay fresh
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    RELATED SITES:
    Orange Bowl
    Rose Bowl
    Philadelphia Mummers Parade
    Hampton Polar Bear Club
    Disney World
    First Night
    New Year's Eve in Times Square
    "Star Trek: The Experience"
    Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority
    Eiffel Tower

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