Americans Plunge Into 2001
Jan. 01, 2001
BOSTON (AP) _ It's a tradition that had defied common sense and cold weather for 99 years, but that didn't stop the L Street Brownies swim club from plunging into the near-freezing Atlantic Ocean on Monday.
It was Jason Winocour's first New Year's Day dash. His assessment? Darn cold.
``It was unbelievable,'' said Winocour, 33, a New Yorker who joined 100 swimmers for the annual plunge. ``It was about 20 degrees out there.''
Actually, it was 21 degrees. But cold weather has never stopped the Brownies, a local club whose members have been diving into South Boston's Carson Beach since Jan. 1, 1902.
While snow and ice buried much of the East, California sun worshippers basked under swaying palms and staked out curbside seats for Pasadena's 112th Tournament of Roses.
Beach chairs, sleeping bags and even sofas were set up along the 5 1/2-mile parade route. Forecasters predicted highs of 80 degrees.
``I called home yesterday and they said five more inches,'' gloated Justin Glon, a Purdue student from Indiana celebrating his 21st birthday.
The crowd was primed to watch the Purdue Boilermarkers battle the University of Washington's Huskies, but their immediate focus was on the 24 marching bands, 27 equestrian units and 52 vegetation-covered floats, every inch adorned with seeds, vegetables, fresh and dried flowers, even seaweed.
Operation Clean Up was under way in many cities across the United States.
Denver street cleaners cleared the last of the broken bottles, confetti and trash left after about 200,000 revelers rang in the new year with a 17-minute fireworks display.
In New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani handed out chocolate chip cookies to sanitation workers hauling an estimated 35 tons of confetti from Times Square.
Only a day earlier, city workers had shoveled out from under a 12-inch snowfall, the city's biggest in five years.
``When we started off two days ago it was thought that we wouldn't even be able to have this celebration,'' Giuliani said.
But a crowd of 700,000 joined Muhammad Ali, the former world heavyweight champion, as he pressed the button that brought Times Square's shimmering crystal ball down a pole at the stroke of midnight.
Giuliani headed off Monday to visit two hospitals where the city's first boy and girl were born.
Peter Robinson _ 6 pounds, 13 ounces _ was delivered at the stroke of midnight in Brooklyn. Renee Fatima Dixon _ 6 pounds, 9 ounces _ was born in the Bronx at 12:03 a.m.
In Pembroke, Massachusetts, the Hegenberger family also had their hands full. Debra Hegenberger gave birth to twins Aaron and Luke _ one on either side of midnight.
New York had the dubious honor of recording its first homicide of 2001 when 17-year-old Andres Perez of Brooklyn died in a hospital at 1:47 a.m. of chest and stomach stab wounds. Police said they had no motive and no suspects.
In Los Angeles County, stray bullets fired into the air by New Year's Eve revelers on Monday killed a 31-year-old man and wounded five others, including a 10-year-old boy.
While their were dozens of other arrests for drunken behavior, many communities rang in the New Year with alcohol-free ``First Night'' events and police reported few disturbances.
In Philadelphia, the annual Mummers Parade drew only slim crowds to the city's 100-year-old tribute to whimsy and weirdness.
Burly men dressed as ``wenches'' _ complete with bonnets, parasols and pigtails _ joined 1,200 Mummers preening and prancing up Market Street. Others donned costumes made of feathers, sequins, satin, fake fur and faux jewels. Floats, skits and string bands rounded out the 10-hour jaunt.