As public and safety officials Thursday buzzed around finalizing plans for increasingly scaled-back New Year’s Eve extravaganzas, ordinary Americans in the hamlets and cul-de-sacs of the suburbs stopped off at the neighborhood package store for a bottle of bubbly and swung by the video store for a movie to ring in the new year.
Joan deFranceaux, 38, considered a “grand hoopla” but decided to do something simpler. “I like the idea of spending time with friends and family,” the Kensington woman said.
Instead of concerts, fireworks and a glowing Washington Monument, people are opting for a quiet night with loved ones.
“We’ve gone out in the past, but it’s always been disappointing,” said a Laurel woman who didn’t want to give her name. “It’s more fun to go to a friend’s house.”
Richard Potts, 22, of New Carrollton, Md., resisted the hype and plans to sit with some friends by the fireplace.
Eugene Bennett, 27, of Laurel, Md., intends to stay inside with his fiancee to “watch movies and drink champagne.”
June Brown, 59, of Lanham, will avoid the possible throngs of revelers; she plans to spend the night indoors with a glass of champagne.
There were still shelves full of libations at the Corridor Fine Wine and Spirits in Laurel, despite the steady stream of customers looking for a bit of the bubbly to cap off their New Year’s plans.
For those playing host or hostess, low-key seems to be the watchword.
Harry Adams is finishing the preparations for his New Year’s Eve party at his Anne Arundel County home.
“A quiet evening, a fire in the fireplace… . and lots of cheer,” he said of his plans with neighbors.
Jim Walker, 42, will be at a friend’s house “eating drinking, celebrating,” he said. And “getting away from the kids,” he added with a laugh.
Mr. Walker seems to be one of the lucky few who managed to snare a baby sitter for the night.
“We didn’t even bother trying,” said John Hanlon, 37, when asked whether he’d found someone to watch the children.
With many baby sitters in the area deferring their duties to party, parents are throwing or attending family events.
Mr. Hanlon is inviting some friends and their families to a party he’s hosting at his new home in Ellicott City, Md.
“Whoever doesn’t have a baby sitter, come on over,” was Mr. Hanlon’s general invitation. About eight couples and their children are expected.
Stephen Mackowiak, 34, will be celebrating the night at home in Annapolis with his wife, 7-month-old twins and maybe his in-laws. When asked how he expected to spend the last hours of 1999, he said his answer a year ago would have been to go out.
“The twins have put a damper on that,” he said.