Millions of Americans spent New Year's Day the old fashioned way--nursing hangovers and watching televised parades and football games--while Cincinnatians and West Virginians had their eyes on the history books.
The world had to wait a bit longer to wrap up 1987 because of an every-third-year phenomenon known as the "leap second"--a second was added to the year to make up for the Earth's irregular rotation and keep clocks accurate.
Cincinnati entered its bicentennial year with a New Year's Eve bash for about 45,000 people in a downtown square--a party that will last all year. The "Queen City" on the Ohio River will be 200 next Dec. 28 but events are planned throughout the year, including steamboat races on the river.
Fete for West Virginians
Friday was a double-celebration day for West Virginians, who were also celebrating the anniversary of their statehood. When residents of Virginia's westernmost counties woke up Jan. 1, 1863, they did not know if President Lincoln had signed a bill to make West Virginia a state in time for the Dec. 31 deadline.
Lincoln had, of course, and four months later--on April 20, 1863--West Virginia was proclaimed a state.
And, on Jan. 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation, issued the previous September by President Lincoln, took effect.
Football fans had it their way Friday with six major football bowl games on television.
The Philadelphia Mummers Parade marked its 88th year with 20,000 caped, sequined and speckled Mummers strutting to string-band strumming in a daylong march.
In New York and Washington, D.C., thousands gathered New Year's Eve to watch falling objects.
About 350,000 people in Times Square watched the "Big Apple" reach the end of its descent after a countdown televised coast-to-coast. And they ran in New York City too--celebrants, many in formal clothes or costumes, staged a five-mile run through Central Park at the stroke of midnight.
In the nation's capital, 100,000 revelers crowded in front of the Post Office Pavilion--the nation's first federal post office--to watch a giant neon postage stamp fall in conjunction with the arrival of 1988.
Coffee and Doughnuts
Also in Washington, the assistant manager of the Grand Hyatt Hotel, Tom Kelly, said no one took advantage of the hotel's offer of free coffee and doughnuts, a free subway ride and reduced rate hotel rooms for people who had too much to drink the night before.
"We had a good turnout and had everything ready for anyone who wanted it, but I guess they just wanted to get home so they could watch the bowl games," Kelly said.
The Marietta Daily Journal, a suburban Atlanta, Ga., newspaper, continued its annual offer of a free funeral for any drunk driver killed on New Year's Eve. By noon Thursday, the deadline for registering for the opportunity, no one had applied. No one ever has.
"The entire idea of this is to emphasize the dangers of drinking intoxicants and operating a motor vehicle at the same time," said Elliott Brack, executive vice president and general manger of the newspaper.
Florida's 5% sales tax on professional services passed into history with the new year after just six months of life. The tax, which met insurmountable pressure from the tourist industry and professionals, was replaced by an increase in the basic sales tax from 5% to 6%.