Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Most Memorable New Year’s Eve

Over the years, I’ve spent New Year’s Eve in many ways, in whatever city I lived it (‘cause Mom always said it was a good tradition to spend New Year’s Eve in the house you live in).

I’ve frozen my feet and butt off on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena staking out a viewing location on the street for the Rose Parade the next morning. And, sloshed through a flooded public restroom to use the urinal (something quite tragic and funny about THAT one).

I’ve watched fireworks on the Las Vegas strip, both out in the freezing night amidst a drunken mob of partying cretins, and from the warmth of a hotel room where I could watch it on live local Las Vegas television.

I’ve played fireworks from our front porch in Hilo, lighting the firecracker packets for Dad so he could toss them out into the front yard and make mini-craters for the kids to use as toy soldier foxholes the next day.

I’ve also lit a couple of 10,000-firecracker strings with the “bomb” at the top in our driveway, then used a power leaf broom to pick up two or three huge cartons of red paper when our $100 fireworks investment had exploded in an atomic-bomb cloud of smoke and ashes.

I’ve rolled hundreds of maki sushi in one day … totaling thousands over the course of the 30+ years that passed since I returned to Hawaii (but that’s a whole ‘nother story in itself).

I’ve had champagne, cold duck sparkling wine, beer, mochi, hot ozoni soup, huge prime ribs, lots of noodles, tons of sushi, and every imaginable sort of food put before me on the table.

But all of those pale in the memory of New Year’s Eve 1999, when Honolulu welcomed in the year 2000. It was the year of Y-2K, the year that all of the world’s computers were going to crash due to a software design flaw. It was the year everybody panicked and some even fled to the hills.

One of my clients was the Hawaii Health Systems Corporation, which manages hospitals on Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai. They had a Y-2K prevention plan, and as their public relations consultant, I was present at their computer headquarters at Leahi Hospital.

At a couple of minutes before midnight, they pressed a button and turned off all of the system’s computers. We then repaired to the roof of the hospital, emerging into what could easily pass as the Apocalypse … the battle of the century … the middle of a war zone. The Vietnam Tet Offensive would have paled in comparison. The "Shock and Awe" bombing of Baghdad would have paled in comparison.

It looked like every aerial rocket, every firecracker, every sparkler, every fire fountain, every ounce of gunpowder in the world was being lit at that moment. East, west, north, south and all points in between – no matter what direction you turned, as far as you could see, it looked like the island was on fire.

The spectacle took my breath away! Not only the sight, but the noxious pall of smoke that rose up steadily from ground level all the way up 50 feet onto the roof where we stood, our legs trembling at the experience. At about 12:10, it started to abate, and we decided to get back into the air-conditioned building so we could breathe again.

The IT guy turned the computers back on, everything worked, and we entered the new millennium (a year early).

And THAT was my most memorable New Year’s Eve.


Sue said...

Y-2k was a great year to celebrate bringing in a new year and a new century.

I think my most memorable was years and years ago when I took my kids to Las Vegas for New Years. My kids were 12, 15 & 16 years old (now 32, 35 & 36)and we stayed at Circus Circus (quite new then. We played games all night long and won so many stuffed animals we almost didn't have room in the car for us or the luggage.

Montee said...

We were just talking about Y2K last night. We could not believe that it's been almost 10 years since we were all preparing to live in caves. I remember we were at some friends' home for a party. We paused and held our breath to watch what happened in Australia. Okay, nothing happened there so we figured we were okay. Then we had another drink and continued the party like it was just another New Year.

Bevlove said...

It has to be watching the ball drop in Times Square. Nothing like being in New York on New Year's Eve. It's totally magical.