(Pictured: fireworks over San Francisco as 1999 turns to 2000.)
December 31, 1999, was a Friday. Tension is high in the developed world over fears that computers might go haywire when the date changes to 1/1/2000 tonight. Worldwide, over $300 billion has been spent preparing for the so-called Y2K or Millennium Bug. Around the United States, at least six babies are born minutes before midnight tonight while awaiting twin siblings to be born after midnight, not just in a new year but a new millennium. Cities around the world prepare for record crowds of revelers to see in the new year. Not seeing the new year is Sarah Knauss of Allentown, Pennsylvania, who died yesterday at the certified age of 119, the oldest person in the world. Today, former US Attorney General Elliott Richardson, who resigned from office in 1973 as a casualty of the Watergate Saturday Night Massacre, dies at age 79. Boris Yeltsin, who became president of Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, resigns from office. He is replaced by Vladimir Putin. By the terms of a treaty concluded in 1977, the United States hands control of the Panama Canal to the government of Panama.
Four college football bowl games are played today. Two are decided late: Oregon beats Minnesota 24-20 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso; in Shreveport, Louisiana, a field goal as time expires gives Mississippi a 27-25 Independence Bowl win over Oklahoma. Six more bowls will be played tomorrow, including the Rose Bowl, with Wisconsin against Stanford. The NBA is on a New Year’s break until Sunday. Two games are played in the NHL tonight: Dallas beats Anaheim 5-4 while Chicago and Detroit play to a 4-4 tie.
Television networks of all sorts are airing special programming themed for the millennium. ABC 2000 Today, a 23-hour show anchored by Peter Jennings, begins at 5AM Eastern time. Tonight, CBS has a special primetime edition of Late Show With David Letterman, a Grammy Awards special, and a live broadcast from the White House millennium gala. NBC presents Dateline NBC and millennium programming hosted by Jay Leno. Fox airs the theatrical movie Star Trek: Generations and a special from Times Square in New York City. Prince performs a pay-per-view show from his studio in Minneapolis, at which he plans to play “1999” for the last time. Metallica plays Detroit with Kid Rock, Ted Nugent, and Sevendust; some of the show airs on MTV. Phish plays the Big Cypress Festival in Florida; some of that show airs on ABC. Billy Joel plays Madison Square Garden and KISS plays Vancouver, British Columbia. Gloria Estefan plays Miami and Bruce Hornsby plays Williamsburg, Virginia. Barbra Streisand opens a two-night stand in Las Vegas, for which she is reportedly being paid $15 million. The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne play the Staples Center in Los Angeles. A story that ran in the Los Angeles Times on Christmas Eve noted that many of the New Year’s Eve shows around the country were seeing sluggish ticket sales. Most of the $1000 seats at the Eagles show are expected to be empty tonight; promoters of Jimmy Buffett’s show at the Universal Amphitheater in LA have slashed ticket prices and reconfigured the theater to hide empty seats.
On the new Hot 100 that will come out tomorrow, the top three songs are in the same positions as last week. “Smooth” by Santana with Rob Thomas is in its 11th week at #1; “Back at One” by Brian McKnight and “I Wanna Love You Forever” by Jessica Simpson are #2 and #3. Whitney Houston’s “My Love Is Your Love” trades places at #4 with “I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden, now at #5. The biggest mover within the Top 40 is Christina Aguilera’s version of “The Christmas Song,” up to #18 from #47. Kenny G’s “Auld Lang Syne (The Millennium Mix)” jumps to #54 from #89.
Perspective From the Present: On this night, The Mrs. and I had dinner out but planned to be in early. Some friends invited us to stop by their house for a drink, which we felt we could safely do and still get home before our town hit the streets to celebrate the new millennium. But it was so pleasant, with cool people hanging out drinking, talking, and watching the celebrations on TV, that we stayed. At midnight, we all sang “Auld Lang Syne” around the piano, and it was 1AM before Ann and I left. It was our last profoundly memorable New Year’s Eve to date. We have spent a few with the family since then, but we’re far more often long in bed by the time midnight comes, as we expect to be tonight.