Countdown to 2000: 24-Hour Gala Begins in Times Square 6:30 AM Dec. 31

News   Countdown to 2000: 24-Hour Gala Begins in Times Square 6:30 AM Dec. 31 Beginning at 6:30 AM Dec. 31, Times Square's 2000 gala celebration gets underway. At that time, half a world away, the New Year itself will be celebrated for the first time in Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and New Zealand.

Beginning at 6:30 AM Dec. 31, Times Square's 2000 gala celebration gets underway. At that time, half a world away, the New Year itself will be celebrated for the first time in Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and New Zealand.

As the world turns, successive New Year's celebrations will take place, and the Times Square 2000 gala organizers have figured out a way to bring everyone to the party.

In fact, while Broadway theatres will be closed New Year's Eve, the various countries around the world will be able to celebrate their New Year simultaneously with New Yorkers in Times Square through live video feeds.

New York will present live entertainment and puppetry to represent some 24 other countries and time zones. Thus, many countries will appear on Broadway just as their respective country folk celebrate at the stroke of midnight with the actual arrival of their own New Year.

The following is a list of the key segments that are planned as part of the Times Square 2000 gala. The local time listed corresponds to the celebration taking place elsewhere at start of the New Year in the countries listed. Friday, December 31, 1999

6:30-7:12 AM -- Fiji, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and New Zealand. The "coming of dawn" is portrayed as the Times Square Ball first appears above One Times Square.

7:45-8:12 AM -- Gilbert Islands, Solomon Islands. A 36-foot whale puppet appears in Times Square.

8:45-9:12 AM -- Australia, Guam, Papua New Guinea. Koala puppets and boomerangs of foam are the theme.

9:45-10:12 AM -- Japan, North Korea and South Korea. Performers enter Times Square under a shower of "cherry blossom" confetti.

10:45-11:12 AM -- China and Mongolia. Dancer vs. Dragon on stage.

11:45 AM-12:12 PM -- Bali, Cambodia, Indonesia and Laos. A representation of the [hands of] Hindu's Brahma.

12:45-1:12 PM -- Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar and Kazakhstan. A theme based on giant water lilies.

1:45-2:12 PM -- India, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal and Pakistan. A puppet representation of a large elephant.

2:45-3:12 PM -- Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Oman. Arabian horses represented as large puppets -- among the longest puppets in the gala.

3:45-4:12 PM -- Bahrain, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Iran and Iraq. Puppet dance play between a grandiose Kenyan warrior and a Russian ballerina.

4:45-5:12 PM -- Egypt, Finland, Israel, South Africa and Turkey. Dancers perform to music from all these countries.

5:45-6:12 PM -- Congo, Germany, Netherlands and Poland. More than 40 countries are represented by large silhouette figures.

6:45-7:12 PM -- Britain, Ivory Coast, Portugal and Senegal. Bagpipers herald the first 2000 gala appearance of the Father Time puppet.

7:45-8:12 PM -- Azores and Cape Verde Islands. Puppet art imitates real life in a musical representation of how dolphins will swim playfully before the bow of a ship, as if leading it.

8:45-9:12 PM -- Brazil. In a toss between "something soccer" and Brazil's tradition of the Carnival festival as being most representative of this region, the final score was Carnival 1 - Soccer 0. Live performers will take to the street in Times Square.

9:45-10:12 PM -- Argentina, Greenland, Suriname and Uruguay. The life and sounds of the rain forest will be represented by the experiences of a butterfly and snake.

10:45-11:12 PM -- Caribbean Islands, Bolivia and Chile. A delightful puppet presentation in this blend of music and the sea.

11:45 PM-12:12 AM -- Eastern United States, Colombia, Cuba and Peru. Dr. Mary Ann Hopkins, a New York City surgeon who treats war casualties through Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) will lower the famed Tiffany 2000 ball above Times Square. As much as any other single act, the lowering of this ball marks the arrival of a New Year for many around the world. Also: three tons of confetti will be released above Times Square at this time.

Saturday, January 1, 2000

12:45-1:12 AM -- Belize, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras. A puppet extravaganza.

1:42-2:12 AM -- Canada. Rocky Mountain music theme.

2:45-3:12 AM -- Western United States and Canada. Dance program featuring the Lakota Sioux.

3:45-4:12 AM -- Eskimo chanting helps evoke the Northern Lights in this lighting extravaganza.

4:45-5:12 AM -- Hawaii, Cook Islands and Tahiti. One of the few art forms that could rival the Broadway cast of Swing! for raw energy: Hawaiian performers dance to their own music.

5:45-6:00 AM -- French Polynesia and Midway Island. Featuring Samoan dancers.

6:00-6:12 AM -- Father Time's last appearance, a light show and confetti combine to bring the show's finale to a close.

Comfort stations or portable restrooms will be located on West 42nd, West 43rd, West 44th, West 45th and West 46th Streets.

-- By Murdoch McBride