Friday, December 31, 1999

Peace Bell rings in New Year for Tristaters




BY RAY SCHAEFER
Enquirer contributor

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Visitors get a closeup look at the World Peace Bell this morning.
(AP photo)
| ZOOM |
        NEWPORT — Eugene Schadle never saw anything so beautiful.

        Mr. Schadle was one of today's earliest visitors to the Millennium Monument World Peace Bell celebration at the corner of Fourth and York streets. Though the 72-year-old Highland Heights man didn't plan to stay until the "Ring In 2000" climax at midnight, he called the 33-ton bell “unbelievable.”

        “It's the prettiest sight I've seen in years,” Mr. Schadle said. “I want to go up and touch that bell.”

        Though visitors weren't allowed to do that Friday, the bell nonetheless thrilled most who saw it.

IF YOU GO map
  World Peace Bell celebrations are free, 6 a.m.-5 p.m. After 5 p.m., a $5 Ring in 2000 pin is required. Available at all entry gates. The schedule of events:
  • Around the World in 24 Hours, 6 a.m. today-6 a.m. Saturday: the bell will ring every hour, marking the start of the New Year in 24 time zones. The bell will ring with a striking device 6 a.m.-11 p.m. It will swing 'n' ring for the first time at midnight, Eastern Time.
  • Interfaith Celebration for World Peace, 2:30-4 p.m. Representatives of worldwide religions (Baha'i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islam, Jain, Jewish, Sikh) in ecclesiastical garb plus children with lanterns and banners. They'll offer prayers and poems for world peace.
  • International Children's Festival, noon-5 p.m.: A day filled with arts, crafts and entertainment for kids. All in a heated tent.
  • Rainbows of the World, 6-11 p.m.: Food, drinks (hot and cold), bands, jugglers, puppeteers, lasers and performances commemorating New Year's celebrations around the world. Also in the heated tent.
  • Burning of Regrets and Time Capsule, 6-10:30 p.m.: Flaming vessels symbolically burn up last year's regrets; a time capsule is ready for statements about the present and hopes for the future.
  • Ring in 2000 Grand Finale, 11 p.m.: fireworks, lasers, special effects, elaborate lighting, a Parade of Nations, lighting of the Eternal Peace Flame and, at midnight, the bell swings for the first time.
  • The Gala, 7 p.m.-2 a.m.: The bell's welcome to Newport party is around the corner at the Syndicate, 18 E. Fifth St., and nearly sold out. Tickets at the $1,000, $500 and $350 levels are gone; a few remain at the $125 level (admission to Cicero's on the lower level, cocktails, hors' d'oeuvres.) 655-7700 or www.ringin2000.org.
ON TV
  Ring in 2000 has a fiber optic feed to “every cable system in the area. That will make this the largest access feed ever in the area, and maybe in the U.S.,” says Ring committee member Ted Bushelman.
  WCPO (Channel 9) will do hourly break-ins every time the bell rings. WXIX (Channel 19) will do its 7-9 a.m. morning show from there, and WKRC (Channel 12) and WLW (Channel 5) will do live break-ins as needed.
        “When I started 11 years ago, I would never have expected something like this,” said Newport Police Officer Jim Boyers, a Newport native.

        Beginning at 6 a.m., a burst of fireworks and ringing of the bell at the top of each hour signaled the beginning of the New Year in one of the world's 24 time zones. After the bell chimed, representatives of each zone sang or performed native dances.

        A few seconds before midnight, Gov. Paul Patton will push the button to activate the bell's electric motors and set it ringing in the New Millennium for the Tristate.

        Workers outnumbered visitors when the bell rang at 8 a.m. to signify the start of 2000 in Micronesia and Australia. But Tony Schmidt, 15, of Falmouth, was there with cousins Alex and Nathan Webb, who live a few blocks away on Overton Street in Newport.

        “It was pretty cool,” Tony said of the bell. “The hammer didn't go back very far, and it made a lot of noise.”

        Shortly after the 8 a.m. ringing, Yuri Maizels and his son Michael, natives of St. Petersburg, Russia, who now live in Mount Washington and Anderson Township, respectively, played Russian, Polynesian and New Zealand songs on their oboe and flute.

        “We, who were born in Russia, playing in the middle of the U.S., it's symbolic,” the younger Mr. Maizels said.

        Gabriel Utazi, a 22-year-old senior at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, chose the celebration as the topic for his senior thesis. His “Millennium Melting Pot” consists of six sketches depicting scenes in Australia, China, India, Israel, England and America.

        “It's the bringing together of the cultures,” said Mr. Utazi, of Newtown. “It's the idea, we're all alike, we're all the same.”

        Many early visitors said seeing the bell makes them think world peace is a reachable goal.

        “Peace is an ultimate imperative,” said Jane Ruhmkorff, 64, who ran three miles from her downtown Cincinnati home. “I'm convinced we cannot achieve it in this world's lifetime. I do think good can overcome the evil. We're making strides.”

        Added Sayuri Jones, who lives in Crestview Hills and is a native of Fukuoka, Japan: “I want to keep the peace for the children.”



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