New Year’s Eve at home

12/30/2011 5:00 AM

12/31/2011 9:25 AM

While some people like to go out on the town for New Year’s Eve, home is a safe-haven place to be for others. Staying in can have its own sense of festivity.

A few traditional ingredients: donning party hats, going out on the front porch at midnight, watching the ball drop at Times Square on TV, eating some black-eyed peas in hoppin’ John or Texas caviar, and singing Auld Lang Syne.


Some people will shoot off fireworks to usher in a new year, and some of us remember clanking pots and pans together as kids. Bernie Koch has a different tradition that he will enact tonight at the crack of midnight:

“We like to ring in the New Year, literally, by ringing a large Swiss cowbell.”

Koch’s daughter Emily showed cattle in 4-H and was a member of the American Junior Simmental Association. Simmental is a Swiss breed of cattle.

“The highlight of that activity was when she won the association’s national show in 1999,” Bernie Koch said. “The award was a very large Swiss cow bell attached to a wide hand-tooled leather belt.

“One New Year’s Eve, while we were baby-sitting our nephew, Bryant Brunner, he managed to stay awake until midnight. We went on the front porch and rang the cowbell. It has a beautiful loud and clear ring.”

If you live in the Amarado neighborhood near 13th and Maize, strain your ears tonight to see if you can pick out the sound. Koch doesn’t keep it up for long.

“We live in a quiet neighborhood,” he said.

“Usually I go out on the front porch and there’s lots of fireworks. I ring it three or four times and get inside before anybody comes out to see what’s going on.”

Black-eyed peas and bubbly

Champagne is the beverage most linked to New Year’s Eve, and black-eyed peas, for reasons no one knows for sure, are eaten for good luck, especially in the South. You can find black-eyed peas in dried, canned and frozen form. One easy and tasty way to serve them is in an oil-and-vinegar dressing with chopped onions, salt and pepper.

If you aren’t drinking the bubbly tonight, consider sipping sparkling grape juice or, for a non-sugar beverage, Perrier or other sparkling water. Out of champagne flutes if you have them.

TV history lesson

•  The first New Year’s Eve special on TV was broadcast Dec. 31, 1941, on WNBT (now WNBC), consisting of entertainment from the Rainbow Room atop the RCA Building in Rockefeller Center.
•  Before Dick Clark became synonymous with New Year’s Eve, that honor went to bandleader Guy Lombardo. After many years on radio, he hosted New Year’s Eve shows from 1956 to 1976 on CBS, from the Waldorf-Astoria. It was Lombardo and his Royal Canadians who made “Auld Lang Syne” into the New Year’s Eve song.
•  In 1972, Clark came up with the idea of counterprogramming the older-skewing Lombardo. He produced (but did not appear on) “Three Dog Night’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve 1973,” on NBC. The special also featured Blood, Sweat & Tears, Helen Reddy and Al Green and was pretaped from the Grand Ballroom of the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach, Calif.
•  Clark’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” debut on ABC was Dec. 31, 1974. Performers included the Beach Boys, Chicago and Olivia Newton-John. Ryan Seacrest, who has taken over hosting duties for Clark, was exactly 1 week old.
•  “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve” was pre-empted in 1999-2000 in favor of ABC’s 24-hour coverage of the worldwide celebrations of the new millennium. (Clark’s traditional ball-dropping countdown from Times Square was included in that coverage.)
•  Tonight, you can catch an anniversary show from 7 to 10 p.m. on ABC (Ch. 10); New Year’s Rockin’ Eve starts at 10:30. There’s also an NBC show from 9 to 11 p.m. (Ch. 3), and a philharmonic Live From Lincoln Center from 7 to 9 p.m. on PBS (Ch. 8), and 10 p.m. to midnight on PBS-2.

Times Square ball drop

1907: At the request of Adolph Ochs, then-publisher of the New York Times, the paper’s chief electrician built a 700-pound ball out of wood and iron. He fitted it with 100 25-watt light bulbs, and it was lowered from a flagpole atop One Times Square as midnight hit.

1920: The ball received its first of many upgrades, changing to a 400-pound model made of wrought iron.

1942-1943: There was no ball drop because of the World War II “dim-out” of the New York City skyline.

1955: The ball this year was made from aluminum, weighing only 200 pounds. Versions of the same aluminum ball with different sorts of lighting configurations were dropped until 1998.

2000 to present: The ball made the first of what would become a flurry of changes over a decade. The 2000 iteration of the ball was built by Waterford Crystal, had a 6-foot diameter and weighed 1,070 pounds. And the spectacle has continued to increase — the 2009 version of the ball had a 12-foot diameter and weighed more than 11,000 pounds.

Despite the weight, the many lights on the ball have become dynamic and computer controlled. No longer is the ball a beacon; now it is a dazzling light show.

“Auld Lang Syne” lyrics

Traditionally, we usher out the old year and welcome in the new with the old Scots song “Auld Lang Syne.”

The title is an idiom (style of speaking peculiar to a group of people) meaning “long, long, ago.” In the Scottish dialect, the words mean “old long ago,” and are derived from an 18th-century poem by Robert Burns partially compiled from an older song.

“Old Long Syne,” printed in 1711 by James Watson, was set to the tune of a folk song that predates the 16th century. In song and poetry, they all point to days gone by and advise that we should remember friendships and loves from the past.

Scots traditionally sang the song during their New Year’s Eve celebration called Hogmanay, and the tradition soon spread to nearby countries.

As Scots, Welsh, Irish and English people emigrated around the world, they took the song and the tradition with them.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And never brought to mind?

Should old acquaintance be forgot,

And old lang syne?


For auld lang syne, my dear,

For auld lang syne,

We’ll take a cup of kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

And surely you’ll buy your pint cup!

And surely I’ll buy mine!

And we’ll take a cup o’ kindness yet,

For auld lang syne.

We two have run about the slopes,

And picked the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered many a weary foot,

Since auld lang syne.


We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun ‘til dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since auld lang syne.


And there’s a hand my trusty friend!

And give us a hand o’ thine!

And we’ll take a right good-will draught,

For auld lang syne.


Children’s party hat

Children can make First Night party hats from metallic poster board, pompoms and pipe cleaners. It’s from Family Fun. You can see the directions online at

Supplies you will need:

•  Metallic poster board
•  Scissors
•  Double-sided foam tape and duct tape
•  Pencil or pen
•  Thumbtack
•  Soft elastic thread
•  Pompoms, pipe cleaners and stickers.

To make a cone-shaped hat, cut a semicircle with an 18-inch diameter from the poster board. Roll it into a cone, adjust its size to fit your head and secure it with double-sided foam tape.

To make a chin strap, use the thumbtack to poke a hole through each side of the hat near the bottom, thread one end of the elastic through each hole, and knot a few times to secure it.

To decorate your hat, coil pipe cleaners around a pencil or pen to make spirals. Attach the spirals by poking a hole through the hat with a thumbtack. Push one inch of the pipe cleaner through the hole to the inside of the hat and duct-tape it down. Attach pompoms with double-sided foam tape. Randomly place stickers.

Contributing: McClatchy News Service, Newsday

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