Entries in New Year's Eve (11)


Colorado Pot Clubs Celebrate Legal Marijuana in New Year

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(DENVER, Colo.) -- It was marijuana instead of champagne this year for some New Year's Eve revelers in Colorado, who lit up in private smoking clubs allowed for the first time under the state's new pot laws.

In Denver, people filled out an online application and paid a $30 fee to become part of Club 64, a private marijuana club named after the new pot law, Amendment 64. Members were advised of a private location in downtown Denver where they could attend a New Year's Eve party with other smokers.

"It went really well," said Robert Corry, an attorney who serves as general counsel for the group and helped shape the language of Amendment 64. "We rented out a retail shop for the evening. We had a DJ, music, some dancing, there was a bar and people brought alcohol, people brought food. It was a very warm, fun, happy evening."

Corry said that the idea for a members-only club had been in the works for years, and that Amendment 64 had been crafted specifically to allow for groups of private smokers. The initial gathering drew hundreds of interested smokers, Corry said.

"We're going to be getting together for periodic meetings and looking for a more permanent home. We hope to settle into a more stable spot in the future," he said. "We have a couple of hundred members at least, judging by last night. We're emerging from the shadows of prohibition, so there's' a lot of pent-up demand and interest."

Corry said he hoped the group would eventually have a space that functioned like a bar, with a food and drink menu. For now, smokers bring their own pot to the party. Under Colorado law, individuals may now possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow six marijuana plants. They are allowed to smoke in private places only, not in public.

The law passed by Colorado voters in November mandated that in 2013, the state legislature would establish laws governing the licensing and selling of marijuana commercially. Since it is still against federal law to sell or possess marijuana, no businesses in the state are selling pot yet, he said. Corry said he hopes that eventually, Club 64 will be able to do so.

Across the state, in Del Norte, business owner Paul Lovato invited friends and acquaintances to the White Horse Inn, a coffee shop he is building, where he said he hopes people will be allowed to smoke privately.

"I got (my permit) yesterday at nine in the morning, so I didn't have time to go in and really build anything, so I said, 'Hey, I have it, come on in, I'm open for business,'" Lovato said. "I invited people to come in and smoke, to basically be in a private location and smoke under Amendment 64. It was basically a gathering, with people smoking and enjoying their legal right to smoke."

He said a dozen people from the rural area around the inn showed up to celebrate, though he expects larger crowds once the shop is officially open.

Lovato said his goal is to operate a coffee shop that sells T-shirts, bumper stickers, and other pot-related gifts in one building on his property. In another building, he will offer a "smoking den" area with booths where guests can drink good coffee and smoke marijuana that they bring with them.

"The White Horse Inn is not a hash bar that sells or distributes marijuana," he said. "It's an Amendment 64-themed gift shop and coffee shop. There's no distribution."

Lovato said that local officials had expressed some concern about the White Horse Inn's gathering, and that he hoped to meet with officials soon to discuss plans for the inn's official opening, scheduled for April 20.

Though he and other groups and businesses may still be figuring out how to operate under Colorado's new marijuana laws, Robert Corry said he is thrilled that his work toward legalized smoking has been successful.

"The feeling was one of joy, really," he said. "This is what a lot of us in this state have been working for for the past decade. It was a real relief that we can finally get to this point."

"It was nice to exercise our freedom and celebrate a little bit. That's really what it's about. For us, we enjoy marijuana, but for me, it's so much more, it's about freedom, and it felt pretty free last night," he said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Estimated 1 Million Ring in 2013 at Ball Drop in New York City

Monika Graff/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- An estimated 1 million people crammed into New York City's Times Square to ring in 2013.  With fireworks and confetti in the air, the crowd, many wearing plastic "2013" glasses, cheered and snapped photos as they watched the ball drop.

The ball, which was covered with 2,688 Waterford crystal triangles and illuminated by more than 32,000 LED color lights, was engraved with the name of longtime host, Dick Clark, who died in April, reports ABC News affiliate WABC in New York. It was the first New Year's Eve celebration without Clark, who had hosted his "New Year's Rockin' Eve" television special for nearly 40 years.

Ryan Seacrest hosted this year's celebration again with cohost Jenny McCarthy.

With the countdown to 2013 complete, the wishes of visitors from all over the world were thrown in Times Square at midnight. People in New York City could fill out their wishes for 2013 at the Times Square Museum prior to the celebration.

One sailor, stationed in Italy, was in Times Square for the celebration on New Year's Eve.  He recalled some of the challenges Americans had faced in 2012, but looked forward to the new year with optimism.

"All Americans are getting together to watch the ball drop, bring in the new year -- new experiences, you know. Closing out a year. You know we've had some hard times … Newtown, Connecticut … the fiscal cliff crisis … everything else," he said. "Hopefully beginning a new year, new experiences and just great times for America, I hope."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Occupy Protesters Mass for Largest Demonstration Since Eviction

JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Occupy Wall Street protesters rang in the New Year with a renewed push, holding their largest demonstration since the movement was evicted last month from the lower Manhattan park where it began.

Dozens of protesters were arrested after a confrontation between demonstrators and police when some Occupiers began tearing down barricades around Zuccotti Park, the site where the movement was born.

Police said that one officer was slightly injured after being stabbed in the hand with a pair of scissors. He has since been treated and released from the hospital.

Shortly after midnight, following the clashes, a large police presence was summoned to the march route. Hundreds of protesters — estimates range from 300 to 500 — marched on Broadway in the early hours of the new year.

In all, 68 people were arrested for various offenses, including trespassing, disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment, a New York Police Department spokesman told ABC News.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Wishes for 2012 to Fall on Times Square

ABC/ Ida Mae Astute(NEW YORK) -- The wishes of thousands of people will flutter down from New York City’s buildings and descend on Times Square when the iconic ball drops Saturday night.

For the fifth year in a row, the Times Square Alliance has collected wishes, which are hand-written on confetti, from visitors. Revelers who can’t be in New York City are able to submit their aspirations for the new year online.

Even celebrities are throwing in their wishes for the new year.

“I hope everybody does well -- all of us. The whole country, everybody. More jobs, everything,” actor Robert DeNiro wrote.

“My wish for New York is that we continue to be the safest big city in the country, with the strongest and most innovative economy,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg wrote.

Others were more simple.

“Peace,” actor Matthew Broderick wrote.

More than 3,000 wishes were collected online from people in 55 countries, according to the Times Square Alliance. Close to 10,000 wishes were received in person.

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Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bird Death Mystery: More Dying Birds Fall From Louisiana Sky

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(LITTLE ROCK, Ark.) -- The mystery of the dying birds deepened for baffled experts after another 500 birds were found littering a Louisiana highway days after 5,000 red-winged blackbirds plunged to their death in Arkansas on New Year's Eve.

Just 300 miles away from Beebe, Arkansas, where thousands of dying birds fell from the sky this past weekend, Louisiana officials revealed that hundreds of birds were found dead Monday.

"We have blackbirds, starlings, sparrows.  Several species of birds are affected," said Dr. Jim Lacour, Louisiana's state wildlife veterinarian.

The birds were found in the Labarre community, 30 miles from Baton Rouge.  Officials say that the two incidents are pure coincidence and unrelated to one another.

Louisiana officials believe the birds fell to their death either late Sunday or early Monday after flying into a power line.  The birds sustained injuries from broken beaks to broken backs.  What prompted the birds to fly into the power line, however, is still a mystery.

The bigger mystery remains the mass death of 5,000 redwing blackbirds in Beebe.  Newly-released 911 calls reveal the initial confusion people felt at the site of birds littering their roads, yards and roofs.

"They are like bleeding out of the mouth and some of them are not dead.  I think they have been poisoned," one Arkansas caller said.

Another caller asked, "I was wondering why all the birds, are just like, dying?"

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tests Underway to Determine Why Birds, Fish Died in Arkansas

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(BEEBE, Ark.) -- Trauma as a result of thunder and lightning is being blamed for the death of thousands of blackbirds that rained down out of the Arkansas sky and over the city of Beebe on New Year's Eve.

"There were multiple thunderstorms that night and for several days that week," said Dr. George Badley, state veterinarian for the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission.  "Red-winged blackbirds fly in large groups and if they got pulled into a thunderstorm, likely lightning struck them.  That would be my best guess."

Officials sent some of the carcasses of the red-winged blackbirds to Badley's Arkansas laboratory.  The rest of the birds to be tested were sent to laboratories in Georgia and Wisconsin.

"Almost every one of them ... had multiple internal hemorrhages which would mean that it was trauma, not a disease process.  Their stomachs were empty, which would rule out toxicity from eating some kind of poison grain," Badley said.

According to preliminary testing released late Monday, the trauma was primarily in breast tissue, with blood clots in the body cavity and internal bleeding.  All major organs were normal and the birds appeared to be healthy, the tests found.  Blood and culture tests on the birds are still pending.

Officials from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said that at least 2,000 carcasses of the birds were collected by the U.S. Environmental Services on Saturday and Sunday, but they believe that up to 5,000 birds actually tumbled from the sky.

Along with the birds, tens of thousands of drum fish were also found dead in the state.  The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said Monday that 83,000 drum fish died in the kill.

Just 125 miles from Beebe, dead drum fish began floating along a 20-mile stretch of the Arkansas River near the town of Ozark last week.  Officials from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission said the fish kill and blackbird deaths are unrelated.

Some of the fish are being sent to Dr. Andrew Goodwin to be tested at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff's Aquaculture and Fisheries Department.  Goodwin said that fish kills are fairly common.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Year's Cleanup Underway

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- They started cleaning up from the New Year's celebration in New York City's Times Square almost before all the revelers had left the space.  The same story was playing out Saturday morning in public spaces the world over.

More than one million people showed up at the so-called "crossroads of the world" to watch the ball drop at midnight.  Fireworks went off at midnight from every corner of the world, marking the beginning of 2011.  Then the cleanup began.

In New York, 175 sanitation workers were in position, ready to go the minute Times Square cleared out.  They were expected to tackle nearly 40 tons of confetti, party favors and trash dropped by the departing partygoers.  They were armed with 23 mechanical sweepers, 21 collection trucks and 36 leaf blowers.  Last year's Times Square cleanup cost a reported $53,000. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tornadoes Touch Down with Deadly Force in New Year's Eve Tragedy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- After a week of extreme weather -- rain and mudslides in the West, blizzard conditions in the East -- it seemed the only thing missing was a tornado.

Friday there were at least 20. Six people were known killed.

From Arkansas to Missouri to Illinois, the funnel clouds came out of nowhere Friday in the worst outbreak of twisters on a New Year's Eve in 50 years.

In northwest Arkansas, a tornado obliterated a house and killed three people in the tiny town of Cincinnati. The violent weather then moved northeast into Missouri, killing three more before heading into Illinois.

In Sparta, Mo., Jessica Barnes and her three-year-old son were lucky to survive as a twister passed.

"I placed him in the tub first and then laid on top of him," Barnes said. "When we came to, he was actually on top of me and first thing he said was 'my house is broken.' There were some boards laying on top of us, and I somehow managed to get them off of me and then screamed out for help from my neighbors."

Tornadoes are extremely rare this time of year, but those that do occur are often deadlier because they move faster in the cold air, leaving less time for warnings.

Blizzard warnings were in effect Friday for parts of Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota and the eastern Dakotas, according to the National Weather Service.

The central and northern Rockies and portions of the Midwest are under several winter storm watches and warnings.

On the Las Vegas strip Friday, people preparing to party were shivering from the cold. In Arizona, rare snow flurries dusted the desert around Phoenix, and the Denver area received about half a foot of snow overnight.

Blowing snow in North Dakota led to a massive pile-up Thursday along Interstate 94 west of Fargo. The chain reaction accident involved up to 100 cars and trucks.

In Arizona, a rare blizzard dumped a foot of snow on higher elevations and shut down Interstate 17 Thursday overnight.

Air and ground transportation systems across the country appear to be getting back on track, as millions of people prepared for the new year.

But there are plenty of trouble spots facing people from California to New York who're still recovering from the extreme weather conditions this past week.

In New York, neighborhoods are still digging out from the blizzard that hit the northeast Sunday and Monday in spite of the city's promise that all the streets would be plowed by now.

But travelers this holiday should have far smoother sailing than last weekend. Surveys show more Americans celebrate the new year at home.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


'No Refusal' on New Year's Eve: Drunk Driving Policy May Save Lives But Stirs Controversy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- If history holds up, this New Year's Eve will prove to have been a deadly night on America's roads. Deaths typically shoot up about 150 percent during the holiday, as intoxicated revelers get behind the wheel.

To combat drunk driving this year, police, prosecutors, and judges in several states are turning to an aggressive and controversial tactic -- the "No Refusal" strategy. Officials in at least seven states, including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, Arizona, Utah and Idaho, have made this a "no refusal" weekend.

The tactic is designed to close a loophole that police see all too often, when a drunk driving suspect says no to a breathalyzer test, hoping to beat any charges in court. Instead this weekend, judges in the no-refusal states will be right there on standby, ready to issue warrants so police can take a blood sample if a suspect declines a breathalyzer test. The results from the blood test provide evidence for prosecutors.

"The no refusal program is a unique program that brings together judges, police officers, nurses and prosecutors in one centralized facility that takes away the ability of impaired drivers to prevent the police from getting evidence," said Warren Diepraam., the chief vehicular crimes prosecutor at the District Attorney's office in Montgomery County, Texas.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an average of 22.4 percent of drunk driving suspects refuse breathalyzer tests. NHTSA reports that 10,839 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes in 2009, a figure that accounts for nearly a third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S.

The federal government and Mothers Against Drunk Driving have firmly supported the "no refusal" strategy as a way to curtail deaths. NHTSA says the "no refusal" program results in more guilty pleas and fewer trials.

Still, there are critics of the "no refusal" plan, including criminal defense attorneys and the ACLU.

"There are two problems with this. One is the potential invalidity of the search warrants," said Marjorie Esman, executive director of the ACLU of Louisiana. "If they're being issued assembly-line style, there may not be the kind of individualized investigation in each particular case that's necessary for a valid search warrant."

"The other concern is the medical privacy issue," Esman said. "We don't know what they're doing with the blood samples -- whether they're data banking it, what kind of information they're going to glean from it."

But law enforcers say that little else has worked to keep drunk drivers off roads, and they hope that this tough tactic can save lives.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Stranded on New Year's Eve? You're Not Alone  

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thousands of stranded travelers are going to have an unusual New Year's Eve thanks to winter storms in the Rockies, the Midwest and the fallout from last weekend's Northeast blizzard.

Blizzard warnings were in effect Friday for portions of Wyoming, Nebraska, Minnesota and the Dakotas, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of the Rockies and the Midwest were under some sort of winter storm watches and warnings Friday morning.

It's a similar story across the country as airlines rebooked stranded passengers on flights after the New Year. But those flying on New Year's Eve night shouldn't expect anything special. While Southwest encourages its flight attendants to have fun on New Year's Eve and wear hats and have noise makers, other airlines told ABC News they were simply focusing on getting everybody home. At least those on Virgin America's red eye and evening flights will get free drinks, according to spokeswoman Abby Lunardini.

Airports aren't doing much for travelers either. In fact, most will have limited retail options.

For instance, the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport will only have a McDonald's and Subway open when the clock strikes midnight. It will be a similar story in Denver where most of the airports concourses will be closed.

At least one hotel is throwing in something special for stranded travelers. New York's Buckingham Hotel is offereing people with flight delays of four hours or more the cost of their airport taxi ride (up to $50) taken off the current available room rate.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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