Across the globe, cities lose that party feeling

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The Independent Online
THE SPATE of terrorist alerts issued by the US government is only the latest dampener to millennial celebrations around the world. Some of the most spectacular planned events have been cancelled or scaled back for other reasons, from fears for public safety to plain lack of interest.

In Washington, a planned Millennial ball at the vast Ronald Reagan centre was scrapped because of disappointing ticket sales. A public party on the National Mall was scaled down and brought indoors because of worries about weather and security. Ticket sales for a concert, featuring Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in New York, are running far below forecasts.

A giant street party on the Kurfurstendamm in Berlin has been cancelled for a mixture of security and financial reasons, although a party at the Brandenburg Gate will proceed. Premier restaurants in New York and Paris are closing for lack of bookings and worries about crowd control. Several restaurateurs said that the prices they would have to pay for staff and supplies dictated prices that customers would not pay.

Stratospheric prices and problems in finding a babysitter are the two reasons people cite most frequently for deciding to mark the millennium at home. The most competitive New Yorkers are said to be vying to claim the most low-key millennium plans in town: from a lonesome retreat with no clocks or electricity, to retiring early and ignoring the whole thing.