Saturday, April 5, 1997
New York is getting ready to stage a millennium party for the ages.
We’re talking about a year-long celebration that’s intended to blow away competition from other cities vying to be ground zero for the millennium.
The big show will kick off with a Times Square New Year’s Eve bash unlike any other. The teeming throngs will be able to watch jumbo television screens showing a 24-hour live broadcast of scenes from each of the world’s 24 time zones.
At the Jacob Javits Convention Center, a small gathering of 40,000 people is planned, with music, performers, a gourmet dinner and, of course, fireworks over the Hudson River.
“This is the beginning of what I think will be one of the great, great New York celebrations as we lead up to the year 2000,” the city’s chief cheerleader, Mayor Giuliani, said yesterday. “It’s an opportunity for us to show off what has become really . . . the central part of the world.”
Seeking to draw more tourists than ever before, organizers will kick off a 1,000-day countdown to the millennium tomorrow in Times Square with musicians from more than 50 college and high school marching bands.
The countdown will lead to a year-long celebration that will begin when the ball drops at midnight Dec. 31, 1999, and end at midnight one year later.
A high point will be July 4 celebrations in the year 2000, featuring Op Sail 2000, billed as the world’s largest parade of tall ships, representing 50 countries and stretching for 10 miles.
The Javits party will take place on four stages, a total of 2 million square feet of dance floor with the hottest talents of the day entertaining the audience, said Steve Leber, chairman of the event, Celebration 2000.
The party will launch a week-long show of collectibles — everything from rare stamps to comic books, Leber said.
Officials could not say how much the festivities would cost or who would pay for them. But Giuliani guaranteed that returns to the city “conservatively will be 10, 15, 20 times the cost of it, probably a lot more than that.”
Giuliani yesterday named the New York City Convention and Visitors Bureau as the official Millennium Committee, to prepare and market the city as the world’s most sought-after destination to ring in the next thousand years.
The bureau has set up shop on the Internet (http://www.nycvisit.com) to receive applications for its millennium logo contest, which will select a design to promote events through the year 2001.
It also has set up the Millennium Club, in which — for a $20 fee — members will get the inside track on news and planning for millennium-related events.
Giuliani was asked if he had any fear the hoopla could bring more people to the city than it can hold.
“We’ll test the outer limits of it,” he said. “We’ll see how much New York City can take.”
Highlights of the Millennium Celebration
1,000-Day Countdown — The clock starts ticking at noon tomorrow with a Times Square performance of the Millennium Marching Band, 1,000 high school and college musicians. The 30-minute ceremony will feature Mayor Giuliani conducting “Stars and Stripes Forever.”
Times Square 2000 — Starting at 7 a.m. on Dec. 31, 1999, giant television screens in Times Square will begin a 24-hour live broadcast of people and cultures from each of the world’s 24 times zones.
The Millennium Ball Drop — The traditional New Year’s Eve countdown in Times Square will take place Dec. 31, 1999, with special hoopla that’s still being planned.
Celebration 2000 — A New Year’s Eve extravaganza for 40,000 people at the Javits Convention Center, complete with music, performers, a gourmet dinner and fireworks over the Hudson River.
Op Sail 2000 — Billed as the world’s largest parade of tall ships — representing 50 nations and stretching for 10 miles — will fill New York Harbor from July 3 to 9, 2000. President Clinton will be on hand for the July 4 celebration.