Sunday, January 02, 2000

Newport sees light turnout for bell

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Organizers of the New Year's World Peace Bell celebration in Newport were pleased with the size of the crowd, even if the numbers were below what they had anticipated.

Saturday's story
        Earlier in the week organizers said they anticipated about 50,000 revelers throughout the day's events and entertainment; 25,000 were expected during the day and another 20,000 to 25,000 for the first official ringing of the World Peace Bell, at midnight.

        But Newport police estimated that about 22,000 total visited during the course of the day, with about 9,000 on site at midnight.

        Joe Bride, vice president of public affairs for the Millennium Monument Co., said the group estimated about 9,000 to 10,000 at the site at midnight, with another 4,000 to 5,000 along Fourth Street and on York Street, bringing the total at midnight to 13,000 to 15,000.

        Millennium Monument, which co-produced the event with Southbank Partners, also estimated that about 15,000 visited during the day, bringing the total number to about 28,000 to 30,000.

        “We were probably more optimistic than we should have been,” said Mr. Bride. “It's a first-time event. That's the most difficult event to predict how many people would come.”

Family event
        He also said he suspected that because of extensive media coverage of the World Peace Bell and the New Year's Eve celebration, some people may have stayed home and watched the celebration on TV.

        Other factors that might have kept people away include the no-alcohol policy and fears about Y2K, he said.

        “We felt that this is a family event,” said Mr. Bride. “The bell's theme is a family theme of peace. There was never any consideration of doing anything else (other than the no-alcohol policy).”

        But organizers were pleased with the celebration, the party at the Syndicate that attracted 1,200 people, the fireworks and the overall turnout.

        “Our true mission is to hopefully do a strong job of educating people about the importance of world peace in the new mil lennium, so we're ecstatic,” said Mr. Bride. “We are absolutely pleased. This is a start.”

        The Campbell County Detention Center in Newport reported Saturday that 26 people had been lodged at the jail between 7 p.m. Friday and 7 a.m. Saturday. Most had been charged with alcohol-related offenses.


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