Compiled by the Echo staff
It’s billed as the biggest bash of the century, but when the last midnight of the millennium rolls around, many Irish Echo readers across the country will be taking it easy, sipping bubbly indoors with friends, or tucking into a cozy meal at home with the family.
Restraint, relaxation and rented videos are on the millennium menu for many readers, while others have decided to quietly watch the world pass into a new era with small groups of close friends and neighbors.
Karen Browning is even hoping it’ll be an uneventful night.
An Irish Echo reader in Atlanta, Browning will be spending New Year’s Eve at home with her family. But her husband, Tom, is a police officer who will be on call during New Year’s Eve revelry.
"We will be having a nice quiet evening with our family," she said. "We hope it will be boring."
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In Florida, Tom McDermott, a deputy U.S. marshal, also plans to celebrate with friends near home. But he’ll also be keeping a close watch on his beeper.
"We’ll be celebrating with several people going house to house, and having some people over to our house," he said.
Although not on-duty over the New Year period, McDermott may be called into work if any problems arise at one of several nearby federal prisons. In 1992 when Hurricane Andrew ripped through the area, marshals were called in to help out when fences at Dade County prison blew over.
"Hopefully, they won’t call us after we’ve had too much champagne. We hoping that doesn’t happen," McDermott joked.
Despite all the hoopla over the new millennium, Armagh native Frank Houlahan plans a relaxed approach to his New Year.
A resident of Philadelphia for 42 years, the 61-year-old will be getting together with a few friends.
"We’ll just be having a bunch of Irish guys over to the house for dinner. Very laid back. And we’ll be drinking a bit of Irish whiskey. We’ve got to keep the lads back home employed, right?"
For others the focus will be geared more toward family, especially the children.
Colleen Scallon, also in Philadelphia, will be rounding up 40 or 50 friends, relatives and their children at a cousin’s house for a pajama party sleepover. With the news constantly harping on about terrorism threats and disaster, it seemed the best option for her children, Erica, 8, Charlie, 3 and Patrick, who celebrated his third birthday a week before the New Year.
"We just decided to stay in with family and friends. Nothing too exciting," said Scollon, whose grandparents came from Donegal.
New York City may be ground zero for the American celebrations, but Mary and John Dodd plan to take things easy with their two young children in the Bronx.
"We didn’t even try to get a babysitter," Mary said.
Ushering in the new millennium will also be a family occasion for the Doughertys, in Massapequa, L.I. "I will be spending time at home with my wife, Melissa, and son Eamonn," Kevin Dougherty said. "Maybe a nice dinner or something, maybe a movie and a little champagne at midnight," he added.
But for some, even niggling worries over failing airline mechanics could not deter a flight to Ireland.
Mark Porcelli of Jersey City is an Italian American, but he will be celebrating the incoming millennium in Ireland. On Dec. 30, he will fly to Ireland to join his girlfriend, Helena, in Dysart, Co. Roscommon, whom he met in the U.S. through his two Irish roommates in college in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Porcelli, a research coordinator for Book and E-Media, whose headquarters is in Seattle but has offices on Broadway in Manhattan, will be among his friends, including Helena, at a party as the clock strikes midnight on the Dec. 31.
Sarah McGowan is a Chicago native will heading down to the local pub. Not surprising, as her family owns it. Sarah and her family will be throwing "a little neighborhood party" for the regulars.
"I wouldn’t pay a thousand dollars to be in a room downtown with a bunch of strangers," she said.
Teresa Walsh also lives in Chicago: "We have a few friends who don’t have plans and we’ll probably get together with them. We don’t want to go very far. Getting a cab will be impossible," she said.
Teresa, who only got married to her husband, Stephen Walsh, a couple of months ago, said that any gathering with friends would probably be in someone’s home.
"I’m not going to pay $80 just to walk into a pub," she said.
Fergus Keane of South Hadley, Mass., was in similar mind.
"We’re all staying around here. We’ll probably have a few people over," he said.
For most that was the plan: Old friends and home sweet home as the new millennium dawns.