- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 1, 2002

Several thousand responsible revelers braved the winter cold last night for a family-friendly New Year's Eve celebration in Old Town Alexandria.
Peter Morton of Alexandria said he almost didn't come because of the cold, but his wife, Lisa, prevailed upon him to join the fun.
The city's First Night festivities, most notable for the conspicuous absence of alcohol, included more than 100 musical acts, face painters, storytellers, puppeteers and balloon sculptors.
"Ever since September 11 there's a lot of focus on community, a lot of focus on family," said event organizer Ann Dorman. "People want to celebrate but they want to celebrate with their family and their community."
The entertainment program, which started at 6 p.m. and ended with a midnight fireworks display, was part of what organizers billed as an "arts-based celebration of community."
Events were held within walking distance of each other in indoor locations throughout Old Town, with musical acts including German folk, gospel and Hawaiian swing. Most of the festivities were on King Street, which was filled with people and sparkling with holiday lights.
Anita Hanley of Arlington said she wouldn't mind a New Year's Eve without champagne and was enjoying the night with her daughter, Amanda, 11, as they walked along King Street.
"I hardly ever stay awake for [midnight], anyway," Mrs. Hanley said.
Organizers said they expected as many as 7,000 people to attend.
As of last week, 1,200 advance tickets had been sold at $10 apiece. The tickets, which come in the form of pins and were required for entry to the attractions, cost $15 yesterday.
The city's First Night celebration two years ago drew an unofficial crowd of 4,000. The celebration last year was scrapped because of lack of funds.
This year, nine Virginia cities, including Warrenton and Leesburg, and two Maryland jurisdictions Talbot County and Annapolis held First Night events. Several that formerly hosted the celebrations either canceled or scaled back because of low turnout and lack of funds.
In Montgomery and Frederick counties canceled their First Night celebrations, while Talbot County decided against holding the traditional midnight fireworks display.
Police forces in Prince George's and Montgomery counties increased patrols last night in search of drunken and drugged drivers.
"We are encouraging responsibility," said Officer Joyce Utter, a Montgomery police spokeswoman, "We're hoping to prevent tragic accidents."
She said increased patrols would be along the main routes in and out of the District, as well as on highly traveled roads, such as Colesville Road and Rockville Pike.
D.C. police last night operated a sobriety checkpoint in the 3600 block of Canal Road NW leading out of Georgetown, said Sgt. Joe Gentile, a police spokesman.
"Officers are out on regular patrol. We're already on a high state of alert because of [September 11]," Sgt. Gentile said, noting the District is not operating a large-scale celebration such as that in Times Square in New York.
The entire Baltimore City Police Department was on duty last night with 200 officers patrolling the Inner Harbor.
Organizers said more than 100,000 people might gather for ice skating, a parade, live entertainment and fireworks. Revelers began to gather at the waterfront at dusk.
Police deployed five boats in the harbor, and no pleasure boats were allowed past the Rusty Scupper restaurant. They also had emergency service vehicles to handle potential problems such as rowdy crowds and suspicious packages.
The World Trade Center on the water was off limitsto everyone except those with offices in the building. Even those partygoers were required to sign up ahead of time to be admitted inside.
H.J. Brier contributed to this report.


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