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Celebrate! : Ringing In the New Year With a Touch of Class

Times Staff Writer

How about something a little different for New Year’s Eve?

Several dozen hotels, restaurants, yacht charterers and even a hot-tub proprietor are proving that there’s more to welcoming the New Year than a bottle of champagne and a band.

Money helps, of course.

For $5,000, Irvine Coast Charters of Newport Beach is hosting an evening cruise around the bay for 45 New Year’s Eve celebrants aboard its 44-foot powerboat, the Markson.

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The price includes hot and cold hors d’oeuvres, a buffet dinner with roast beef and several kinds of mousse, a full bar, party favors and, to set the right musical tone for the evening, a disc jockey. (If you’re interested in the charter, try again next year. The cruise is booked this time around.)

For those who want to arrive at the party in style, Tricia Spencer, owner of American Dream Limousine of Orange, says that all her cars will be “working” this New Year’s Eve, from the cheapest $46-an-hour “superstretch” limousine to the primo car of her stable, a burgundy and black Grand Rolls-Dusenay.

The 1930s custom-made Dusenay has a hand-carved mahogany interior, a water fountain, a floorboard wine cellar, French tapestry ceiling and such electronic wizardry as a stereo, color TV and cellular phone. On New Year’s Eve it rents for a 10-hour minimum at about $2,000, Spencer said. And, yes, it too is booked.

For more affordable pleasures, Family Hot Tubs in Anaheim is renting its Jacuzzis and saunas for the usual rate this New Year’s Eve--$20 an hour. But at midnight, manager Gary Chaffin promises to supply squeakers, horns and other noisemakers to set a festive tone.

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At the Laff Stop, a Newport Beach comedy club, those who pay $15 to attend the early show with ventriloquists David Straussman and Chuck Wood will discover that the clocks have been set on Eastern Standard Time.

“For the first show, we’re turning the clocks ahead to give people a chance to celebrate early,” Laff Stop secretary Rozey Martinez explained. “At 9 o’clock, it’ll be midnight in New York, so we’re going to do the traditional things like singing ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ ”

Also at that time, Laff Stop staffers will be handing out party hats, noisemakers and a split of champagne.

For the second show ($28.50 at 10 p.m.), the clocks will be back on Pacific Standard Time, and at midnight patrons will be treated to the usual party hats, party favors, hors d’oeuvres and champagne that will flow “until we run out,” Martinez said.

Sans the Bubbles

For those inclined to ring in the New Year sans the bubbles, Disneyland in Anaheim offers a non-alcoholic evening. Twenty-three dollars per person buys midnight fireworks and lots of dancing to the music of Mr. Mister, Klymaxx, Sergio Mendes and Ray Anthony.

Nearby in Buena Park, Knott’s Berry Farm will supply party hats, noisemakers and an evening of Christian music for $16 a person. But again--don’t expect the champagne.

Another champagneless New Year’s Eve is on tap at the Skate Ranch in Anaheim. Owner Dennis Collier is hosting the ranch’s annual “New Year’s Eve Roller Skating Party” for children and adults alike, with party hats, horns, non-alcoholic drinks and, at midnight, its renowned “balloon drop,” in which colored balloons drop from the ceiling.

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One benefit of roller-skating into the New Year, Collier notes, is that “you don’t have to get dressed up in suits and ties.” Patrons may wear whatever they can skate comfortably in, although there is a dress code--no dirty or ripped jeans allowed.

More Traditional Fare

Orange County’s hotels, restaurants and nightclubs are offering more traditional, though sometimes expensive, New Year’s Eve fare.

At the Westin South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Alfredo’s restaurant is offering a special “Italian Extravaganza.” For $170 per couple, patrons get a six-course dinner, dancing to a four-piece band, party favors, gifts and, at midnight, champagne.

And for those who don’t care to drive home, the South Coast Westin is offering what it calls its “celebration rate"--$60 for a double or a single, instead of the usual $140 for a single, $160 for a double.

At the Hotel Meridien in Newport Beach, $550 will buy an elaborate dinner at Antoine’s restaurant, dancing, a midnight toast of Dom Perignon, an overnight stay in a one-bedroom executive suite and a full breakfast.

Four-Course Dinner

Several less-expensive packages are available--one, for instance, for “only” $250 per couple. That buys a four-course dinner in the Meridien’s Deauville Ballroom, dancing, a deluxe guest room and a continental breakfast.

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Oddly, firms that provide entertainment said that this year’s round of parties in Orange County is shaping up as rather “sedate"--much more quiet, for instance, than at Christmas.

All the performers at Animal Crackers Entertainment in Newport Beach were booked solid several weeks before Christmas. Not only were their strippers, celebrity look-alikes, rock musicians and magicians busy, but special events were in demand, Animal Crackers president Bob Bills said.

For one Christmas party, Animal Crackers had provided thousands of balloons filled with lottery tickets. At another, the host couldn’t decide on a location, so Animal Crackers chartered 10 limousines and took party-goers bar hopping.

But this New Year’s Eve “doesn’t seem to be a big day for us,” Animal Crackers agent Juliete Lanfried said. The firm’s standard fare--the comedians, the strippers, the musicians--were booked but nothing unusual was planned. “I thought for sure we’d get some fun stuff,” she lamented. “Maybe everybody’s broke after Christmas.”

Times desk assistant Danielle Fouquette contributed to this story.


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