As part of New York City's 2000 gala preparations, all vehicular traffic will be prohibited from 59th to 34th Streets, between Eighth and Sixth Avenues beginning at 12:01 on New Year's Eve, Friday Dec. 31.
This 72-block pedestrian zone will be used by those celebrating the New York City 2000 gala. Whenever possible -- and for as long as possible during the celebration -- the city will keep side streets open to pedestrians, allowing free movement within the zone.
The Times Square 2000 gala schedule begins at 6:30 AM Friday, Dec. 31.
The event is based on a multi-cultural theme, with live video feeds linking 24 separate 2000 galas from around the world.
In New York, giant puppets by Julie Taymor's Lion King collaborator, Michael Curry, and other entertainers will represent various themes, regions and cultures with live performances and parade appearances. By way of example, the theme performances on Broadway representing Japan, North Korea and South Korea will coincide with the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day in those countries. Gala revellers in New York will be able to watch the midnight celebration in those countries on large screens while 95 live entertainers enter Broadway under a shower of "cherry blossom" confetti . Throughout the gala, the police will carefully monitor crowds according to their size and behavior. If safety issues arise, the NYPD said that contingency plans include subdividing the overall crowd into cells on a block-by-block basis. This is when side street would be closed by barricades.
"That is [part of] the plan," explained NYPD Lt. Sean Crowley, who said that barricades could be used to create celebrations within the overall gala if dangerous surging or other safety issues warranted it.
Reports say that nearly all of the NYPD's 40,000 member force will be on active duty, with some 8,000 plainclothes and uniformed officers positioned in the Times Square area.
Crowley confirmed that the NYPD's crack "No Parking Detail," was in place on the 4-12 PM shift Dec. 30 and that towing began as early as 6 PM.
Asked where cars will be towed, Crowley said it depended on the situation. "If they were parked illegally, they could be impounded," Crowley explained. "But if not, they might just be relocated."
The police distinguish between specific parking offenses and will sometimes relocate cars without actually impounding them, which is less expensive for the car owner than paying an impound fee.
While quick to tow cars when necessary, the NYPD does keep track of what it does with them. Crowley said that towed cars can be found by calling the Midtown South Precinct at (212) 239-9811 or by visiting the NYPD Command Post located at 43rd Street and Broadway.
The NYPD will reopen the large gala pedestrian zone to vehicular traffic early in 2000.
"It'll be opened up again some time on Saturday depending on crowds and clean up," Crowley said.
-- By Murdoch McBride