Chimes at Midnight

East Valley party-heads have the Fiesta Bowl Block Party (see Snafu 2000). For the downtowners, there's the City of Phoenix's big and controversial Phoenix Celebration 2000, slated from 4 p.m. Friday, December 31, through 1 a.m. Saturday, January 1, 2000, or through the End of Civilization As We Know It, whichever comes first, in a 12-block area of downtown Phoenix -- specifically, from Third Avenue to the west, First Street to the east, Van Buren to the north and Jefferson to the south. Here are a few of the highlights:

A reunion concert by the Valley's own Gin Blossoms is the highlight of the musical bill, which kicks off at 5 p.m. in the main festival area. The rather wacky and eclectic lineup includes C.C. Ryder, The Peacemakers, Gas Giants, The Pistoleros, John Kay and Steppenwolf, The Association, The Crickets, Three Dog Night, Waylon Jennings, and, in a nod to the midcentury, a "Rock and Roll Army featuring top-name '50s Rock and Rollers." Following the Blossoms' performance at midnight, the largest fireworks display in the state's history is scheduled.

A Family Fun Zone, featuring interactive games and other amusements aimed at the preteen set, will open at 4 p.m. at Heritage Square and at the Science Center, located at Seventh Street and Monroe. A mini-fireworks display for this crowd is scheduled for 9 p.m.

The Grand Staircase at Arizona Center hosts a Disco Dance Party starting at 7 p.m., with live performances by Deney Terrio and Motion, and by Rose Royce. America West Arena is the scene of a concert by some country group or other called The Judds.

Milder but no less enjoyable revels are offered by Phoenix Symphony's Friday night program, which traces the century: Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man; "My Heart Will Go On" from the film Titanic; Twentiana, by Ades; a "Star-Spangled Spectacular" by Cohan and Cacavas; "Sing! Sing! Sing!" by Henderson and Kozinski; a medley of World War II songs; Mancini and Custers' theme for The Pink Panther; a Beatles medley; the first movement (the famous "Knock of Fate") of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; the Pas de Deux from Act 2 of Giselle; three dances from Nutcracker; Johann Strauss Jr.'s beloved An der schonen blauen Donau; and others. Robert Moody conducts the symphony, which is joined by baritone Don Farrell and by members of Ballet Arizona, starting at 8 p.m. Friday, December 31, at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams.

But suppose you're a dedicated West Valleyite? Have I got an option for you -- the newly completed Glendale Civic Center, located downtown, is scheduled to host a traditional New Year's party starting at 7 p.m. Friday, December 31. It's not cheap -- $100 per person -- but it includes a gourmet meal of beef tenderloin, Mexican prawn culiacans with foie gras Merlot demi-glaze and fire-roasted baby red creamer potatoes, followed by Belgian white chocolate mousse Napoleon in rainbow sauce, as well as a second dessert at midnight, served with champagne. There's also to be dancing to the music of the Rhythm Edition, noisemakers, funny hats and the like.

Yummy as all of this sounds, the really exciting part is the floor show -- Barbra and Neil, an hourlong "Tribute Show" to Streisand and Diamond performed by "two of Las Vegas' best impersonators," starts at 10 p.m. These faux-superstars could make for a fun way to wrap up the 1900s.

Tickets for Phoenix Celebration 2000 are $10 in advance, $15 the day of the event, and are available at Dillard's. Tickets, if any remain, for the Phoenix Symphony show are $25 and $45, and are available by calling 602-262-7272 or 480-503-5555. Tickets for the Glendale event are $100, available by calling 623-930-2961. For other New-Year's Eve options, see Friday.

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M.V. Moorhead
Contact: M.V. Moorhead