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What are you doing New Year's Eve?


Maybe it's much too early in the game
Aah, but I thought I'd ask you just the same,
What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?
Wonder whose arms will hold you good and tight
When it's exactly twelve o'clock that night
Welcoming in the New Year, New Year's Eve.
Maybe I'm crazy to suppose
I'd ever be the one you chose
Out of a thousand invitations you received
Aah, but in case I stand one little chance
Here comes the jackpot question in advance:
What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?"

What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? written by Frank Loesser, as performed by
Ella Fitzgerald on her album, Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas

"Two thousand zero zero, party over,
out of time. So tonight I'm gonna party like it's 1999."

Prince from the album, 1999.

WHETHER YOU CALL IT Y2K OR THE NEW millennium, it's upon us. With a few days to go until the big event, a surprising number of people have no idea what they are doing New Year's Eve.

When I asked a friend, he said he'd like to be on the Arcata Plaza, a traditional gathering place any Dec. 31. But his wife quickly cut in saying, "Where do you suppose we're going to get a babysitter? We're staying home with a bottle of champagne."

"What am I doing New Year's?" said Arcata Chief of Police Mel Brown. "I'm working."

All local police forces, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Department and the Highway Patrol will have extra officers on duty.

"We've got everybody that's warm working," Brown said. "We're just expecting a lot of revelry. It's usually busy downtown on weekends. This will be even busier. This might seem like a tired phrase, but I think it's just going to be the party of the century."

[photo of Arnie Milsap] Eureka Police Chief Arnie Milsap says he'll be working New Year's Eve as usual.

"Every year since I've been a cop and I've been one for 33 years we've geared up for New Year's Eve," said Chief Arnie Milsap of the Eureka Police Department. "Just like we do for the 4th of July and other major events."

Is he worried about Y2K computer glitches?

"We've been looking at this Y2K thing for well over two years," he said. "Some have predicted that everything from computers to toasters would not work.

"I think we're pretty pompous to believe that the Judeo-Christian calendar created by the Romans somehow sets the time clock for the universe. The Chinese have their own calendar, the Jewish people and Muslims have their own, the Native Americans and probably the Martians.

"It's a big day, a momentous event. I am concerned about manufactured revelry people firing off guns. I'm taking a zero tolerance on that. If you get caught, you're going to spend the night in jail," Milsap said.

"Some nonprofit groups will be selling legal fireworks; we'll be on the lookout for illegal ones -- firecrackers, bursting bombs and stuff like that."

In addition to the do-it-yourself fireworks, there will be a big show on the waterfront. The Eureka Millennium Fireworks Celebration begins at 7 p.m. off the Del Norte Street Pier. The display will be handled by Boom Boom Productions, the same firm that does Eureka's 4th of July displays.

"We're getting ready," said Monique Steininger from the company's office in Hayfork. "The 4th of July is when we do most of our business. This year is the first time we've had several shows for New Year's Eve."

The fireworks mainly come from China with a few American bombs and some from Mexico. Boom Boom also runs a wholesale division called Wizard Fireworks brokering container sales of Chinese fireworks to pyrotechnic companies around the country and the company's founder, Fred May, also sells electrical firing systems he designed.

May has been working on fine tuning fireworks choreography. The plan for Eureka is to keep the show short and spectacular. The number of bombs that might be shot off in a 40-minute show will be compressed into a 10-15 minute show.

Steininger said Boom Boom has also been hired to put on a millennial display in Fortuna in connection with a private party. Organizers prefer to keep the location secret, but those who live near the river might want to step outside just before midnight.

Lincoln Wachtel is Café Tomo's entertainment booker. [photo of Lincoln Wachte.]

In terms of millenial music, Café Tomo's entertainment booker Lincoln Wachtel choose a combination of local funk and world music with an African drum and dance review in between. Opening the show at 9 p.m. is Spank, Arcata's premier purveyor of acid jazz and funky grooves. It is followed by an African dance troupe from Southern Humboldt and by Zulu Spear, a Bay Area band led by South African expatriate Sechaba Mokoena.

[photo of Joyce Hough band] Fred Neighbor (second from left)
and Joyce Hough's new band
is booked for the Jambalaya.

A big question remains as to whether Jambalaya will be open in time for New Year's Eve. As we go to press, the new owner, Debra Lazio, was still not sure. Lazio has put off the projected opening date a couple of times and, although most of the remodeling work is done, all permits must be in place.

Fred Neighbor and Joyce Hough's new band is booked for the Jam. Lazio said she's ready to print and issue tickets to the event but with a cancellation disclaimer if all inspections and permits and not in place.


When I asked Ken Graves, the vocalist for the hot new rock-a-billy/swing/blues band, Red Hellion, about his plans for New Year's Eve, he said without hesitation, "I'm going to rock this town like it's never been rocked before" a bowling alley.

His band is playing at the Arcata Bowl for something called Rock 'n' Bowl 2000.

"They usually had a band in the Pin Room, but this will be a bigger deal. We'll actually play out in the alley starting at 9:30 p.m.

[photo of Red Hellion] Red Hellion, the new rock-a-billy/swing/blues band plays at Rock 'n'Bowl 2000 at the Arcata Bowl.

"I'm trying to get one of my friends to dress up as the baby New Year and hand out prizes, but it's all up in the air so I'm not making any promises."

Bunny Wilder, owner of the Blue Moon in Garberville, is part of a committee planning a family-friendly street party in Garberville's downtown.

"It started out when we did some fundraising and bought $10,000 worth of holiday decorations and lights for Garberville. Somebody from the chamber said, `Well, it's going to look so good, why don't we throw a block party for New Year's.' The idea took on a life of its own."

The pattern is something happening around the country called "First Night." The movement began in Boston in 1976 and has grown to include celebrations in more than 200 cities across the country.

The idea is to create a community celebration of the New Year, a visual and performing arts festival created by and for the community reviving the ancient tradition of marking the passage of time with art, ritual and festivity. A variety of local bands will perform including Bishop Mayfield Band, Spin Cycle, the Lost Coast Marimba Band.

"It's totally family oriented," said Wilder. "We'll have lots of youth activities. Different organizations like the cheerleaders and the Little League will be taking care of the kids area for us."

Debbie Goodwin, executive director of the Humboldt Arts Council, is planning a big party, but it's not on New Year's Eve; it's the next day. The old Carnegie Library will reopen Jan. 1, 2000, as a regional arts center and headquarters for the Arts Council. So Goodwin's New Year's Eve will have to be low key.

"I plan on going to the Carnegie and having a glass of champagne with my friends and family," she said. "I'll be doing last-minute things, and I think that's where I want to be. It will be a quiet night because the next day is a big party."

Down at the Scotia Inn, Chuck Opitz is planning an elegant evening combining food, wine and music.

"We have Barbara Romero and Friends playing in the main dining room," said Opitz. "Then we have the Randy Strom Trio, with Randy playing his War guitar and two guys with him for a jazz thing. They're playing in the Pub starting at 9 p.m. Barbara will start at 7."

The inn is offering a variety of celebration packages from a five-course, six-wine dinner with dancing and room to a small cover charge for live music in the Pub.

[photo of Scotia Inn Chefs] The Scotia Inn chefs Chuck Wozniak and Jack Caza have an elaborate menu planned.

The Scotia Inn chefs, Jack Caza and Chuck Wozniak, have an elaborate menu planned.

"We've got a Sevruga caviar appetizer, totally elegant, totally expensive, totally decadent," Opitz said. "We had to buy a pound of the stuff and it did not come cheap."

The millenium menu includes a salad course with baby lettuces, pears and gorgonzola, a brie soup with roasted pepper, Lamb Wellington or veal (" kind of a Tuscan thing," he said), filet mignon and a salmon pané, followed by a specially created dessert called "Y2Kreation."

And champagne?

"A classic French champagne, Vueve Clicquot, for the New Year's toast," Opitz said.

The Benbow Inn is booked solid for its New Year's Eve Gala Dinner. Guests will dance to the big band swing by the Titanic Band, and enjoy a "Millennium Madness" fireworks.

The six-course dinner prepared under the direction of Chef Evan Treadwell includes poached local oysters with Sevruga caviar, roast lobster with chantrelles, herb-crusted filet mignon with Bearnaise sauce and a soup course with white root vegetable and truffles. (Rutabagas are among the root vegetables in this concoction.)

Innkeeper Teresa Porter said that the dessert course will include a special treat.

"We were able to acquire a case of some 1900 Malvasia Madera," she said. "So with desert all of our guests will be able to toast the next century with a wine bottled the first year in this century."

Guests will also receive a complimentary copy of Songs of the Century, a CD created by house pianist Matthew Cook for the occasion featuring one song from each decade in the 20th Century plus one written specifically for the Benbow. At noon on Jan. 2, when the guests have packed up and gone home, the Inn closes for the season, reopening in three months.

Courtney Roberts, who owns and operates Club West in Eureka, will spend New Year's just as he has for the last nine years, overseeing a large party in his night club.

"We'll have six different deejays that night," said Roberts in a call from the club. "In the main room we'll have DJ Charles, DJ Paulie Paul and DJ Garth with your basic club dance music. Then in the back lounge we'll have three hip hop deejays spinning funk and soul. Some years in the past we've done live bands, but we can accommodate more music styles with the deejays, plus the bands always want a lot more money that night."

Just in case there is a problem, Roberts has reserved a generator. "We'll be ready for Y2K no matter what," he said.

"We're doing a balloon drop at midnight with $2,000 in cash and prizes."

Following the midnight revelry, Club West will reopen for "The Millennium Party That Never Stops," an after-hours party beginning at 2 a.m. The bar will be closed, but the music will resume running until 6 a.m.

"People who have been partying all night can come here and dance themselves sober," said Roberts.

Elsewhere in Eureka, there's a "Magical Millennium Gala" at the Red Lion Hotel. Party-goers can stay at the hotel and enjoy dinner and dancing in the R.J. Grins Lounge, or visit the Lounge party where Austin Alley and the Rustlers will provide country western music.

There's no room at the Inn New Year's. The entire Eureka Inn is booked for overnight stays. However, tickets are still available for its "Huge Millennium Party." You are invited to dance in the New Year with music in three rooms: the venerable rockers of the Merv George Band perform in the Colonnade Room, For Dancers Only plays swing in the Grand Lobby and the John Raczka Quartet plays cool and hot jazz in the Palm Lounge. And if you really don't want to drive home, they can probably put you up in the Downtowner nearby.

Acoalition of church groups has put together an event they call "Joy 2000" at the Adorni Center in Eureka, according to Naomi Kerr, a member of the planning committee.

"We're a group of people from different churches who decided it would be great to rent the Adorni for a millennium celebration. It's not any denomination just people who love Jesus."

The evening is separated into five "movements" with themes joy, liberty, unity, charity and praise each heralded with instruments called shofars, a horn made from a ram's horn.

"They blow through them and it makes kind of a trumpet sound. It's a biblical call to worship. They will blast the horns to begin the evening and to introduce each new section, like they did in Bible days."

There will be inspirational speakers at the beginning of each part of the program followed by music. Among those providing entertainment are the United Methodist Praise Band, Mike Gibbs and friends, Tahoe Castle, Doreen Hastings, the Celebration Band, Kenna Reed will play harp during dinner, Ken Bortz will do comedy, and a dancer, Pryncz Lotoj with his children, Genesis and Machelle. Just after midnight Greta Levertt will lead an Israeli dance.

"The overall concept is unity among all people believing in the same God and the same Bible.

"We know there are a lot of dire things predicted for the future in the year 2000, but we have the courage to go into this new millennium and celebrate the evening no matter what happens because of our faith."

After midnight Joy 2000 offers two options. There will be a silent auction at the Adorni or people are invited to bring flashlights and join in a prayer walk through Old Town.

In Willow Creek, the celebration is called, "Millennial Meltdown." It takes place from 8:30 p.m.-2 a.m. at the VFW Hall at Veteran's Park.

"It came about when a number of people and groups in town all decided we needed to do something," said Marc Rowley, one of the organizers. "For our small town it's going to be pretty extensive definitely the best-planned event that we've had in a long time."

Topping the music lineup is the Good Dog Band, a group of rock 'n' rollers who were regulars in the Humboldt County bar circuit in the '70s, folk duos, Bittersweet and Todd Clark as deejay.

"I think one thing that makes this a unique event is that there are clear divisions about what type of party this will be. A bunch of high school kids are going to show up in full formal dress tuxedos and evening gowns and we have some older people doing that, too. Then we have a pretty good contingent who are taking the Millennium Meltdown tongue-in-cheek and they're going to show up as Road Warriors."

There will be food and drink with a gourmet buffet catered by Celebration. In keeping with the theme organizers are planning a fireworks display plus a Burning Man-style computer sacrifice.

"We have a big crew working on that. Some of the carpenters in town are making a wooden computer approximately 30 feet wide, 10 feet wide and 10 or 15 feet deep like the size of a small cabin," Rowley said. "We're going to burn it down at the stroke of midnight as a sacrifice to help get us into the new Millennium. We figure the computer is the root of all evil in the world."

Not to be outdone, Cher-Ae Heights will ring in the new year Mardi Gras-style. The casino will be decorated in ribbons of purple, green, yellow and gold and a balloon drop is promised for those on hand when the clock strikes the hour of the new year.

There will be music by two local bands, including Full Spectrum of Trinidad. Patrons can dance into the wee hours, then hang around for the buffet that begins at 6 on the morning of the new year.

Cathy Silva, marketing director at Cher-Ae Heights, said what really separates its new year's bash from many others is that it will be drug- and alcohol-free.

"Guests won't have to worry about John Doe coming over and starting a fight because someone was talking to his wife," Silva said, adding that sparkling cider will be available for the midnight toast.

The casino will also host some special gaming events in honor of the millennium an hourly Mystery Seat Drawing will begin at 3 p.m. on New Year's eve and there will be a $2,000 drawing at midnight for qualifying jackpot winners.

A 24-hour shuttle service is provided by the casino, with buses arriving every half-hour to Arcata's North Coast Inn. The shuttles are not reserved for hotel guests anyone wishing to avoid the hassles of driving can park at the hotel and take advantage of the service.

The Humboldt Transit Authority is also running free shuttle service from McKinleyville to Fortuna from 8 p.m. to 3:30 a.m. Jan. 1, 2000.

So get ready to party like it's 1999.

For information about Joy 2000 call 442-2607.
For the Willow Creek Millennial Meltdown call (530) 629-3646.
To reserve lanes at Rock 'n' Bowl 2000 call the Arcata Bowl at 822-2543.
Eureka Inn 442-6441.
The Red Lion Hotel 445-0844.
Cher-Ae Heights 677-3611
Club West 444-2624.
The Scotia Inn 764-5683.
Jambalaya's phone number is the same as it ever was -- 822-4766.

Comments? E-mail the Journal: ncjour@northcoast.com

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