now where rich people go for New Year's? To bed. Before midnight. They wake up refreshed with a clear head and start right in to thinking about getting richer.
Anyway, that's the story the rich people tell. Bob Dylan said in "All Along the Watchtower," "You and I, we've been through that, and this is not our fate." But it is a growing trend.
Generally speaking, about two-thirds of Americans celebrate the New Year in some fashion. Although about half stay home rather than going out.
Most years, fewer than 1 in 10 ring in the New Year at a bar, restaurant or organized event. About 3 in 10 don't bother to ring it in at all.
You can include the slightly manic denizens of Times Square among those who don't go to bed, bar or restaurant and don't stay home on New Year's Eve. About a million revelers flooded "The Crossroads of the World" last night and braved freezing temperatures to stand and wait six hours just to count down the final seconds of 2014. And make a lot of noise.
Times Square has pretty much been America's landmark New Year's Eve event since 1907. The Times Square Alliance estimates that over a billion people around the world watch New York's ball-drop festivities each year (counting both live views and views replayed later in the year, one suspects). That includes six in 10 Americans: two-thirds of all women and over half of the men.
Last night many of them were watching over someone's shoulder in a crowded family room, either their own or someone else's. About 23 percent say they entertain at home or go to a friend or neighbor's home for a party, where invariably there's a TV on tuned to Ryan Seacrest or Carson Daily (or, in really affluent households, both).
For some who venture Out, Out, First Night activities are popular. The idea behind First Night is that it celebrates the community's local culture, often featuring music, dance, comedy, art, fireworks, even ice sculptures and parades. (That's not really my community.)
It started in Boston in 1975. Some clean-cut civic types were looking to create a New Year's experience that would be wholesome, entertaining, broadly engaging and alcohol-free. Puritans. Don't they know Prohibition was fought for our right to party hearty, meaning drunk?
But broadly engaging it certainly can be. Last night's Morristown, NJ, First Night celebration featured more than 200 artists in 90 events at 24 venues in a town-wide party There were dance, theater, music, world culture, visual arts and children's events. Exhausting.
First Night celebrations were held in more than 260 cities in 2000, but with the financial meltdown, a lot of programs ran into funding problems. Many were scaled back, many were canceled. This year about 45 cities held First Night celebrations.
Still, even at their peak far more people just went to bed. Or even to a restaurant (long lines, poor service, replacement kitchen staff, jacked up prices).
Some religious congregations hold New Year's Eve Watch Night services. The faithful congregate around midnight and offer thanks for the blessings of the outgoing year and pray for divine favor in the coming year.
Watch Night can be traced back to John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who learned the custom from Moravians who came to England in the 1730s.
Watch Night took on special significance to African Americans on New Year's Eve 1862, as slaves anticipated the arrival of January 1, 1863, when Lincoln had announced he would sign the Emancipation Proclamation.
Still and all, there were more people attending First Night venues these days.
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear ....
Times Square telecasts haven't changed much over the years. Shows feature a party-type talent show interspersed with live remotes of Times Square and the countdown to midnight as the ball drops culminating in a few—too few —strains of "Auld Lang Syne." Breathless announcers act like they didn't know the passage of time would continue into the next day, which to the planet is, well, just another day.
Actually two changes come to mind. One, production values in general and advertising in particular have gotten much slicker.