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David Carr’s article (“Oh Say, Why Can’t We See?” 1/7) was right on target, as were those I read in the Washington Post. I had boned up on all there was to know about “America’s Millennium Gala” so that my friends and I would be well informed and wouldn’t miss a thing. I had even planned which of the four “gates” we’d enter, and where we’d sit—that was, until we arrived on the scene and saw and joined the lines from hell. Amazing that the MCI Center has probably 20 different entrances and 80 ticket-takers for 20,000 people, FedEx Field 40 entrances and a hundred or so takers for 60,000, yet 300,000 of us common folk were supposed to get into four entrances—after proper time for adequate frisking and de-bottling—to stand where we could get a great view of the back of the bleachers.
My homework at least paid off in that I stayed until 1 a.m. to see the second fireworks show (that is, if you count the first one—unfortunately, I was focusing my camera, and the fireworks ended before I got off a shot). I guess that 80 percent of the crowd left thinking it was all over—especially since with our binoculars we could see the credits rolling on one of the four screens placed on the Mall for our viewing pleasure. To see the second round, those who had brought their kids and kept them up until midnight had to stay another hour in the cold listening to our cue from the event producers: “We’re coming back from commercial in a few minutes.”
I was—and remain—incredulous about the fireworks at midnight. I figured that standing in the cold, enduring the speeches, the Spielberg self-indulgent piece, and the numerous lengthy gaps when there was no music—even of the prerecorded type—would certainly pay off with the most spectacular fireworks ever seen on the Mall. I had read that it was going to—in the words of the producer—”blow away what you’d see in New York.” When it was over and I began the long walk home, I felt like a 5-year-old kid who’s been told he’s going to meet a professional basketball player and is hyped to think it might be Michael Jordan, only to find out it’s a member of the Wizards.