Friday, December 31, 1999

Home is fine for many

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For the last six years, William and Tracy Mitchell have spent New Year's Eve with their two sons at home. That won't change tonight, despite the hoopla over the arrival of 2000.

        While thousands will toast the new year at Times Square or a local pub, family traditions and Y2K concerns are keeping many Tristaters close to home this year.

        For the Mitchells, New Year's Eve is family time. They decided that while driving home from a holiday party.

        “We talked about what we actually got out of partying with people whom we know, but don't really have the close connection that we do with our children,” Mrs. Mitchell said. “Since that night we have spent New Year's Eve together at home in College Hill eating popcorn or whatever my husband and I have made to make that evening special.”

        Jim and Cece Bigner of Western Hills have always done different things on New Year's Eve, but they found that staying home is fun. This year, they'll take their four kids, ages 7 to 14, to grandma and grandpa's house in Monfort Heights. Everyone gets to pick their favorite junk food. They'll play Sequence, a card game, and dominoes. They'll have the TV on to watch the Times Square ball drop.

        “I am lucky to have healthy, fun in-laws that certainly don't act their age,” Mrs. Bigner said. “For example, we play a killer game of musical chairs every Christmas Eve. We have been invited to spend the night, which the kids are really looking forward to.”

        Brandt and Toni Nako of Symmes Township always stay home on New Year's Eve. “We prefer to be with our children and welcome the New Year in with them,” Mrs. Nako said.

        They usually make a big, fancy meal and eat in the dining room — a big deal for their two children, ages 6 and 10. This year, they're adding a visit to their church, St. Barnabas in Montgomery, which is sponsoring a family fun night until midnight.

        For some Tristate families, con cerns over Y2K factored into their New Year's Eve plans. It's not that they're huddling in a bunker. They just think it's wise to hang out at home this year.

        Fred and Sherry Steinbeck of Anderson Township have been married 12 years, and this is the first year they'll stay home.

        “We have gone to restaurants, hotels and private parties in the past, but with Y2K, added expenses for a millennium celebration and the lack of babysitters, home seemed the logical choice,” Mrs. Steinbeck said. “We are not convinced that nothing will go wrong, so we will be safe and cozy at home.”

        The Steinbecks are holding a dinner party with their family and best friends. All told, they'll have 10 adults and four children, ages 9 to 13 at their home. The Steinbecks plan to serve a lobster and steak dinner, followed by champagne in the hot tub.

        Across the country, there are reports of people foregoing big, expensive celebrations. Polls show most Americans intend to stay home.

        Some wanted to celebrate in a big way, but circumstances changed their best-laid plans.

        A few years ago, Mark and Molly Akers of West Chester made big plans for this much-anticipated New Year's Eve. They would gather in Las Vegas with their 20-plus Purdue University alumni friends from all over the country.

        “Now that I am 51/2 months pregnant and those friends already have children, the Vegas dream is gone,” Mrs. Akers says. “I didn't feel like dealing with the crowds at the bars.” ”

        So, they'll take their Cincinnati Purdue friends to Mrs. Akers' parents' house in Western Hills for a Y2K euchre party. “My parents and their friends are huge euchre players, so this is a high stakes tournament,” she joked. “In all, I am glad that I will be with my husband, parents and friends on the millennium.”


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