Happy New Year!

December 31, 2010 12:50:48 PM PST
My most vivid New Year's Eve memories involve not some ribald encounters or wild parties.

Instead, I remember tuna sandwiches, Coca Cola, and trying desperately to keep my eyes open till midnight.

My partner in what passed for debauchery in my youth was my brother, Bruce. I suppose I should call him to check on our actual ages when we began this ritualm he has a family historian kind of mind but I'll guess we started at about age 9 or 10, old enough for our parents to go out for the night and leave us alone.

And man oh man, did we party like it was 1960. We'd put a six-pack of cola in the fridge, make several tuna sandwiches, and then cut them into bite-sized triangles ? party-style!

We'd graze for a while although I'm pretty sure we didn't call it that back then, and try mightily to stay awake to see the ball drop from Times Square on TV. Not sure we thought much about the taped nature of the event, given that we were in Los Angeles and the ball, in real time, had already dropped three hours before. Hard enough to stay up till midnight when you're 10, let alone think about the time-zone consideration that it was actually 3 a.m. in Times Square by the time we were watching.

Funny the things you remember from childhood. They are rarely what your parents think you'll recall, a notion I try to keep in mind as I raise my own kids.

And so for me, the tuna sandwiches celebrations will be nostalgic prelude to our 11 p.m. newscast, and coverage of the dawning of the new year. The truth is I think I've worked just about every New Year's Eve since 2000, when we stayed "on alert" till 3:30 a.m. in the newsroom, waiting for any Y2K problems. Remember Y2K?

And that's become our protocol ever since staying in the newsroom past midnight, just in case. Would that Y2K was our biggest concern, right?

We will of course be in Times Square, mingling with the million or so peeps who for some reason will gather there just to be, I suppose, part of the nuttiness. They have had a hard time clearing all the streets in New York City, much to the dismay and anger of residents. But they had no problem moving the snow out of Times Square, so a worldwide audience, which has already seen the embarrassing way the City handled the blizzard this week, doesn't see a trace of the evidence tonight.

Oh, the price of public relations.

Too late, of course, for New Yorkers themselves. The bitter taste of the holiday blizzard of 2010 will last a while. I'm just sayin'.

Security is as tight as ever at Times Square at least according to the NYPD. Commissioner Ray Kelly is in town, coordinating the security. But being out of town is something of a talker tonight.

President Obama will remain in Hawaii, where he grew up, until he returns home Tuesday. Vice President Biden is in Delaware. And Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano is in Afghanistan apparently to make us feel that her absence here means all is secure.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is also home. Finally. He spent the week at Disney World while his state was snowbound from the blizzard. There was much criticism, even a website asking "Where's Christie?"

New Jersey elected its first-ever Lt. Governor last year just so there'd be a statewide-elected official if the Governor were absent. But the Lt. Gov. was off visiting her cancer-stricken father, so it was left to the ranking State Senator to assume the "acting" Governor title during the storm. And he did a good job, calling for a state of emergency something Mayor Bloomberg has been criticized for NOT doing with this blizzard.

Today, Mr. Christie, speaking to the press for the first time, insisted he was in constant contact with state officials during the storm. This was in response to tart questions from reporters about his I'm-going-on-vacation-no-matter-what absence. Oh yeah and by the way he also made much out of sending a letter to Pres. Obama asking for declaration of a major disaster so he could get federal funding from FEMA.

He also, I'm sure by coincidence, announced he was distributing more than $11 million in FEMA disaster funds from storm damage earlier this year. Nothing like money to soothe the political criticism.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee's weekend AccuWeather forecast, and Rob Powers with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11. And then stick around to watch ABC's ball drop coverage from Times Square. And, if you're in the mood, make a few tuna sandwiches.

Happy New Year!

BILL RITTER

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