Saturday, January 1, 2000

Peace Bell rings in New Year for Tristaters

The Cincinnati Enquirer

World Peace Bell swings for the first time to ring in 2000.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        Thousands of Tristaters celebrated the beginning of the New Millennium with the first ringing of the World Peace Bell in Newport and fireworks over Hamilton's Courthouse Square.

        The Newport celebration started at 6 a.m. Friday, when the bell began ringing softly every hour on the hour to mark the arrival of 2000 around the globe. The big hurrah at the glass-and-steel pavilion came at midnight, with Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton pushing a button to activate the bell.

        Fireworks lit up the sky over Newport for 15 minutes.

        Some 22,000 people visited the bell during the day, and 9,000 were there at midnight for the Tristate's largest New Year's Eve party, police said. By 10 p.m., about 5,000, including Miss America Heather Renee French, of nearby Maysville, Ky., had made their way to the bell.

Stephanie Cooper, 17, of Fort Mitchell, was at the Newport celebration.
(Craig Ruttle photo)
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        “We were watching this on television today, had a nice dinner at home and decided to come over here to watch the bell and see how long the kids would last,” said Jim Matchinga, of Park Hills, who brought his wife, Cathy, and children Matthew, 6, and Ann, 4.

        The 33-ton bell was cast in December, 1998, in Nantes, France, and it arrived in this country over the summer before making its way by barge up the Mississippi and Ohio rivers.

        A gala party started at 8 p.m. at the Syndicate, across Fifth Street from the bell. About 120 couples paid either $1,000 or $500 to attend the gala.

        Sales of bell memorabilia were brisk all day at the Kentucky Haus Fifth gift shop.

        The store opened at 6 a.m. Friday and was going to stay open until 6 p.m. today.

        “We're going to be open for 36 straight hours. I guess that makes us the Wal-Mart of Newport,” said Kentucky Haus owner Bev Thatcher.

Kevin Graniela of Key West, Fla., hugs girlfriend Aimee Graves of Hamilton as fireworks explode over the Hamilton Courthouse Square.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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For children and lovers
        Hamilton's New Year's Eve celebration was decidedly child-oriented, which made Shaun Higgins happy.

        The 36-year-old Hamilton man was surrounded by children Friday night — four of his own, his cousin's four and two neighbor kids.

        They attended the 7 p.m. puppet show downtown.

        “They know it's something different, and they're trying to make it special, too,” Mr. Higgins said.

        Matt Heinrich, 28, of Hamilton, had planned to spend the New Year's in New York City but procrastinated until it was too late. Instead, he spent Friday night in Hamilton.

        “This will do, we're having fun,” he said.

        Centered on Front Street and the Great Miami River, Hamilton's celebration featured live music, children's programs, trolley and carriage rides in historic neighborhoods, worship services and food.

        At midnight, the first of Rozzi Brothers' fireworks exploded over the river. Among those in the crowd was Connie Huenthelman, 48, of Hamilton, and her husband, John.

Sandra Ison of Middletown and Dean Roll of Lebanon are married in Hamilton.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        “We wanted to do something we'll always remember,” Mrs. Huenthelman said as she rang a miniature bell. “I liked the theme that everyone who rang it at midnight was ringing it for peace.”

        Earlier, at 10 p.m. Hamilton Mayor Tom Nye officiated a group wedding for 12 couples. Several more couples renewed their vows.

        “We thought it would be neat to celebrate the New Year this way,” said Dean Roll, 24, of Lebanon, who donned a suit and tie for the ceremony.

        “And it's a lot less hassle,” said his bride, the former Sandra Ison, of Middletown.

Sandy Steward of Colerain dances at the Convention Center.
(Saed Hindash photo)
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Praise and worship
        With “Praise the Lord,” greetings, a foot-stomping gospel chorus, big smiles and bear-hugging fellowship, the second floor of the Albert E. Sabin Cincinnati Convention Center was turned into a New Year's Eve revival.

        “Just as they're partying in the street, we're askin' for a Holy Ghost Party!” a singer praised from a platform stage. “Thank you, God. You allowed us to walk over the devil's head.”

        Mimes, singers, dancers and children were all part of Bishop Bobby Hilton's Word of Deliverance Ministries for the World Millennium Explosion.

        Delivering a sermon called “I see the Lord,” Pastor Hilton told an estimated 2,500 worshipers — many from his Forest Park congregation — about the importance of having a vision of God in the next millennium.

        “It's full of excitement. It's exhilarating,” said Brenda Bostick, who brought her two children to the service.

Riding in a carriage to a vintage 1899 party: Pam Hallberg, Jay Montanus, Pam Berge, Rick Hallberg, Phil Montanus and J. David Seibert. Driver is Linda Stack.
(Jeff Swinger photo)
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Party time
        In Indian Hill, they partied as if it were 1899.

        William and Sue Brisben threw a New Year's Eve party for about 100 friends, inviting them to don late 19th century attire to wel come the new millennium.

        Guests Pam and Rick Hallberg of Indian Hill and two other couples rented a horse-drawn carriage to take them to the party.

        The Brisbens sent out invitations to their “Party of the Century” in May, and Mr. Brisben has been collecting vintage wine for three years in preparation, Mrs. Hallberg said.

        “(The 1899 theme) adds a flair of excitement and fun,” said Pam Berge of Hyde Park who wore a purple, bustled gown and long, curly hair pieces.

        As the couples climbed into the horse-drawn carriage, Mrs. Hallberg's daughter kept watch with a distinctly un-1899-ish prop — a digital camera.

        But the conversation was timeless. The women vowed to lose weight as their New Year's resolutions, while the men chatted about work.

Fireworks explode over the World Peace Bell.
(AP photo)
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        Other people celebrated in an equally timeless fashion.

        Brian Conner and Quest Henry, 25 and 24, of Columbus, spent most of New Year's Eve at Banana Joe's on Main Street in Over-the-Rhine.

        They drove down to surprise a friend at his party, but they couldn't find the party.

        “We're either going to the casino or hit party spots in downtown Cincinnati,” Mr. Henry said.

        A bartender overheard the comment and said, “This is the place to be.”

        “I guess we're doing well so far,” Mr. Henry said. “We just want to have a good time and meet some girls maybe.”

        Mark Curnutte, Tanya Albert, Robert Anglen, Mike Boyer, Dana DiFilippo, Terry Flynn, Spencer Hunt, Susan Vela and Earnest Winston, and the Associated Press contributed.

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