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Pine Avenue Plans a New Year’s Eve Taste of Big Apple, West Coast Style

The idea for the biggest New Year’s Eve party ever in Long Beach began when Mum’s Ristorante proprietor John Morris glanced up at the downtown clock tower.

“I was racking my brain trying to think of some way to get people downtown and I looked up at the tower and thought, ‘Why not New Year’s Eve?’ ”

Inspired by New York City’s Times Square celebration, Morris mentioned his idea to several of his buddy restaurateurs on Pine Avenue. “Everybody loved it,” he said.

Thus, Times Square on Pine Avenue--with a distinctly West Coast flair--was born.

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The free celebration will feature continuous live music on two separate stages in the street, presenting a variety of styles from big band to Latin to vintage and modern rock ‘n’ roll. It will be a rare chance to literally dance in the street. Don’t worry about dodging Fords and Lincolns--the city will close Pine Avenue to vehicle traffic between Ocean Boulevard and 3rd Street at 9:30 p.m.

As midnight approaches, tons of confetti will shower down on street-side revelers as laser lights slice the sky into thousands of slivers. A midnight celebration with light show is planned, Morris said. The countdown will focus on the clock tower at 1st Street and Pine Avenue.

Like Times Square, television will be on hand to record the passing of 1991--Simmons Cable TV will display the party live to Long Beach’s 68,000 subscribers.

During the evening, those eating on a budget can buy assorted finger foods and drinks--hot dogs, slices of pizzas, cappuccino--from street vendors or the A & M Deli, 247 Pine Ave., a New York-style establishment offering a variety of sandwiches from meatball to pastrami.

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For a more formal evening, call any of the restaurants on Pine Avenue for reservations to special New Year’s Eve dinners that begin at 9 p.m. Each of the eateries--Mum’s, L’Opera, Pine Avenue Fish House--offers various menus and styles of food for $69 a person, plus tax and tip.

Mum’s, 144 Pine Ave., offers complimentary valet parking, live music and roof-top dancing with the $69 ticket. Pizzas and cappuccino will be served on the patio. A lower-priced menu will be available from 5 to 9 p.m. Call (310) 437-7700 for reservations.

At L’Opera, 101 Pine Ave., a five-piece big band will complement a five-course meal for the $69; from 5 to 8 p.m. diners will choose from the regular menu.

At System M, 213 Pine Ave., live big band music and a four-course meal will cost $35 a person. Call (310) 491-0066 for reservations. Nearby at Floreale, the Ramada Renaissance Hotel restaurant, 111 E. Ocean Blvd., a special dinner will be served along with the regular menu. Reservations are required at (310) 437-5900.

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Birdland West, 105 W. Broadway, where jazz musicians Hank Crawford and Barbara Morrison perform, costs $65 a person ($125 a couple) and includes a three-course meal and champagne. Call (310) 436-9341 for reservations. At 12:01, Birdland will drop its cover charge to keep the party going.

The Comedy Club, 49 S. Pine Ave., will feature Jerry Dye, Larry (Omaha) Barrientos and Renee Hicks beginning at 7:30 p.m. for $21 per person. Reservations are a must. Call (310) 437-6709 or Ticket Master, May Co. or Music Plus.

Two local art galleries will be open for special shows on New Year’s Eve. The Williams/Lamb Gallery, 102 W. 3rd St., features an exhibit of paintings by Los Angeles artist Diane Gamboa, part of the Artes de Mexico festival. The gallery will remain open from 6 to 10 p.m. The Works Gallery, 104 W. 3rd St., also will stay open until 10 p.m.

Free bus service is available New Year’s Eve day and all night, compliments of Long Beach Transit. The Metro Blue Line has extended its hours until 1:30 a.m., Morris said, for 25 cents a ride. If you drive, parking is available for $2 at the Landmark Square office tower. Enter off Pacific Avenue. Free parking is available a little farther away at the Long Beach Plaza parking structure. For more information about Times Square on Pine Avenue, call (310) 436-4259.

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