Capital city goes all-out to ring in 2000

Posted: Sunday, January 02, 2000

Juneau rang in the year 2000 with kissing, singing and stomping.

About 600 people attended the Tuxedo Junction Millennium Bash at Centennial Hall, joining voices to count down the final 10 seconds of 1999. At the stroke of midnight, 10,000 balloons began falling from the ceiling.

The response was immediate and deafening. High heels and wingtips made short work of the balloons, with a sound like thousands of firecrackers going off.

The event raised about $25,000 for University of Alaska Southeast Scholarship programs, said organizer Tish Griffin.

Five minutes after midnight, in a relatively quiet corner of the hall's lobby, Lt. Gov. Fran Ulmer united Kristine Gallagher and Mark Troupin in holy matrimony.

``By the power vested in me by the state of Alaska, I now pronounce you husband and wife. May you have a long and prosperous life together,'' said Ulmer.


23-month-old Gabriel Cohen-a member of the class of 2016-blows a horn during a New Year's party at the Juneau home of his parents, Suzi and Stuart Cohen.

Gallagher said she'd made one New Year's Eve resolution - ``To have and to hold.''

Across town at the Alaskan Bar and Hotel, musician Bill Kozlowski was also spending New Year's Eve doing exactly what he wanted - playing with his band, Peabody's Monster.

``What better thing to do than play music. For us to end the millennium and start the next with playing is a gift,'' he said.

Peabody's Monster went all out for the occasion. A friend sat up an overhead projector and put on a liquid light show, drenching the band with giant blobs of colored light that crawled amoeba-like over the five musicians as they played. They set up two Macintosh computers in the bar so revelers could record millennium messages. They also had a digital audio recorder and two video cameras taping the their performing.

``We're posting the whole thing on the band's Website,'' said Koslowksi, a 28-year-old Web page designer.

In Nike and gingham contrast to the high-heeled, sequined elegance a few blocks away, contra dancers whooped it up at the Scottish Rite Temple. They paused at midnight for a sparkling cider toast.

But the rest of the night they danced in four long lines of 24 dancers each, listening to callers, perspiring and enjoying themselves. Many had come stripped for exertion, abandoning full skirts and long trousers in favor of jeans and tuxedo tees or Hawaiian shirts and shorts. Some women were wearing sparkly circlets in their hair.

Economist Gerry Landry, 35, bounced daughter Jessica, 2, on his knee. Jessica clutched her ready bag for the Millennium: crackers, cookies and water. Meanwhile, Kathy Landry, 24, a state employee, swung her corner and swung her partner to tunes such as ``Old Gray Cat.'' .

``We came so Kathy could dance,'' Gerry Landry said. ``We're going on to a few other parties... When it gets very late, we're going to the Alpine Club camp-out by the glacier.''

Paralegal Nancy Korting, 48, wasn't dancing, but enjoying the New England fiddle and Irish tunes nevertheless.

``You don't hear this music anywhere but at these functions.''

Fair Warnin' was wailing out country tunes to a dance floor full, but not crowded, at the Sandbar. At 10:30 the bar had a normal Friday crowd, but owner Jerry Niemi predicted there'd be standing room only by 1 a.m.

Susan Mokma danced in an antique black hat with veil she'd bought years before and matching dress. She'd been saving both for a special occasion, since she normally wears Carharts, never dresses.

``It's a new century and I would never get dressed up for anything else,'' Mokma said. ``I mean, my relatives have died and I didn't get this dressed up.''

She expects 2000 to be fun.

``Life is what you make it and if you go out and have fun you enjoy your life,'' Mokma said. ``You've got to get some fishing in, some hiking.''

Sandbar owner Gail Niemi was working in the kitchen, preparing vegetable pizza, stuffed mushrooms and other hors d'oeuvres to serve at midnight. She didn't mind.

``After 20 years being on the other side (tending bar), it's nice being in the kitchen,'' Niemi said. ``The best thing you can do when people are drinking is feed them, and we thought, that's what we'll do. Keep everyone safer.''

Minutes before midnight, Karen Cummins sat at a half-empty table in Club 2000 in a glittering dress and fur coat. Half her friends had left temporarily to spend the midnight countdown with spouses working for GCI Cable. Like many other workers, they spent the millennium watching for computer problems.

``It's tough when you work in a public service kind of thing,'' Cummins said. ``It's kind of like your always on call.''

A rowdy crowd at Marlintini's counted down with a tape-delayed broadcast of Times Square, then ``basically holler and hoot,'' said master of ceremonies Eric Eidsness. A balloon drop revealed a sign ``2000'' and they gave away 2000 pennies.

``I thought it would be a big deal, but it's really not,'' said Evan Crawford, 34, of the year 2000. ``We'll see what tomorrow feels like when I wake up with a hangover. I think the rest of the world's going to feel the same way.''

But the true importance of a new page in time may not sink in until the parties are long over and people have time for reflection.

``I don't think it will `til a couple weeks from now,'' said Jennifer Quinto, 21. ``You've got to have time for it to settle in and work with you.''

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