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CNN International Special Event

Millennium 2000 Coverage

Aired January 1, 2000 - 0:00 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

(CROWD CHEERING)

(CELEBRATIONS IN CHICAGO)

(CELEBRATIONS IN GRANBURY, TEXAS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now you're ready to party. Let's show Granbury something they've never seen before and the good folks at CNN that's shown around the world.

(CELEBRATIONS IN MEXICO CITY)

(CELEBRATIONS IN NEW ORLEANS)

BERNARD SHAW, CNN ANCHOR: It's very interesting as we watch the fireworks over Lake Michigan on the shores of Chicago. Guess what? Last year this time, this city and its residents were suffering under 22 inches of snow.

And Jeff Flock, have you seen a flake today, tonight?

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Not a one, Bernie. And you know, it's been a beautiful night, and you can see the fireworks are just gorgeous. It's been unseasonably warm. These people are tremendous.

But the reason that I think I couldn't think of any better place to be than Chicago tonight is the people that you see, the faces from literally 200 I think -- and 205 is now the total countries from around the world, two people from each of those countries coming here - pharmacists from Albania, priests from Bulgaria, farmer from Indonesia, housewife from Mexico, the list goes on - all coming together in Chicago tonight, which has always been a melting pot, but probably never more so than at this very moment, as this new millennium, perhaps, if that's the way you look at it, is rung in here.

And it's really been an extraordinary evening to spend time with these people and just watch the whole world come together, both on CNN, as well as here in Chicago. Bernie?

SHAW: Jeff Flock, our Chicago bureau chief. Pretty pictures.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: You know, we don't have cameras everywhere, Bernie, that has turned midnight in the Central time zone, but let's mention again some of the states. Wisconsin, well, Illinois, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, plus parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, and most of Kansas.

And not only that, in Central America - Costa Rica, El Salvador, the Galapagos Islands, Guatemala, Honduras. We've already seen pictures in Mexico, and let's not forget Nicaragua. And Bernie, you mentioned Winnipeg, Canada. A big chunk of Canada has joined the millennium.

SHAW: And as in Illinois, and we can't forget the next-door Hoosier state, Indiana, they have varying time zones, so it comes and it goes in that state.

Let's go down to New Orleans and see what the folks in the Big Easy are doing. Lou Waters is there.

LOU WATERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Already someplace that they have to be, such as at the Red Cross gala at the Hyatt Hotel right across the river. That's where "Newsday's" Austin Nicole Trainer (ph) is.

Watching the rockets red glare, green glare, any kind of glare you like, but we have an interesting situation. I may have told you earlier that because of the warmth of the day, it was mid to high '70s today here in New Orleans, cold water -- we got fog rolling in, and some of these rockets going up can't be seen behind the mist. No signs of disappointment among the crowd that is packed in here. As I mentioned earlier, the French Quarter is packed in, and some of those have spilled over here now onto the river walk to watch the show, and it's packed in here.

This is the culmination of one heck of a week here in the Big Easy tonight with Fats Domino and Cyril Neville appearing down at the Hyatt Hotel. We have the Neville Brothers over at the Harrah's Casino here. Dr. John moves early in the week. As you know, music is always great here. In the Delta, some of the best local blues bands anywhere in the world are here. But if you can't afford those tickets, all you have to do is walk along the street here in New Orleans, and you'll hear music on every corner. And that's the way it's been all week long. Tonight is no exception.

This party is liable to go on quite sometime into the night, as you know. It's not as big as Mardi Gras, but it's just as enthusiastic, and this kind of party can tucker you out. And tonight just might do the trick, Bernie and Judy.

WOODRUFF: I don't think it's going to tucker Lou Waters out.

SHAW: He doesn't look tuckered.

WOODRUFF: Sure doesn't. All right, that's the picture in Louisiana, New Orleans. Some nice, romantic pictures indoors and outdoors. We got those same 2000 glasses, sunglasses that we saw at Times Square.

SHAW: Laurin Sydney has a pair in Las Vegas. Fred Hickman has a pair in Times Square.

WOODRUFF: In the neighboring state of Texas, the town of Granbury, our own Candy Crowley is there keeping an eye on the celebrations. Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Judy, I think as you can see, Fred had Times Square, and Wolf had the Washington Mall, and Christiane had London, but the crew and I will always have Granbury, Texas. And I can tell you that at midnight, there was no difference in any of those places and Granbury. There was the countdown, and there was the crowds kissing one another and, of course, always the fireworks.

So basically, what they did here was wait all night for this one moment, as they did all around the world. They love, of course, being able to say to the world, "This is Granbury." They consider this their moment in the sun, or under the bright Texas sky at night, at any rate.

So they're pretty much wrapping it up here, as you think they might in Texas, with some country-western music and a burst of fire, as you can see it in the air here. We'll have Brian turn around just so you can watch Granbury say hello to the new millennium.

Actually, when the clock struck, the town square, which of course is where they all surround and go to their activities, all go around this town square, was absolutely packed. They all stayed here until the midnight hour. One round of "Auld Lang Syne," a lot of them took off. So there is, of course, work still to be done tomorrow. some of them said they just wanted to go home and go to bed. Others are going to linger on here, listen to some of the music, and party into the night, which they have been doing since about 5:00 this afternoon. So Granbury celebrating like the rest of the world with some fireworks and some good cheer and a little music. Judy and Bernie?

WOODRUFF: Candy, I think I already know the answer to this question, but Bernie and I are assuming that the people of Granbury have made you and your colleagues feel very welcome on this New Year's night.

CROWLEY: Yeah. It's -- you know, it's one of the nice things about going to a small town is you cannot -- you know, word got out that we were here. They couldn't have been nicer, obviously. I mean, this is good for them. It gets Granbury on the map. It's a tourist town, so of course, you know, they love the publicity.

But they really have gone out of their way. They have loved having us here, and boy, we got peanut brittle, homemade peanut brittle, you know, all kinds of local delicacies. So, yeah, they were --they were delighted to have us here and delighted to get their 15 minutes of fame.

WOODRUFF: Well, we're glad to send them CNN's very best. Thank you, Candy Crowley.

SHAW: When we come back, we're going to drop in on the capital of Texas, Austin. We're going to take you to Winnipeg, Canada, to see how they rang in this new millennium, and New Orleans once again, as the year 2000 rolls across the United States and Canada.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CELEBRATIONS IN AUSTIN, TEXAS)

WOODRUFF: This was the picture in Austin, Texas, the capital of that terrific state, just 15 -- 16 minutes ago when the clock struck midnight. You know, Bernie, we've been watching the charming town of Granbury, and Austin sits, as we know, a little bit south of Granbury near Dallas, Fort Worth. So we're getting to see more than one place in the great state of Texas tonight.

SHAW: Along with watching those doings, we also have been watching the Y2K rollover as the new millennium came across the time zones. Let's check in with Carl Rochelle at the FAA Center in Herndon, Virginia, for a report card on how things look and how things went. Carl?

CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Bernie, it looks like we may have our first bump in the Y2K road, if you will, what has been a very smooth road so far. I'm at the command center in Herndon, Virginia, where the FAA tracks what is going on at all the aircraft flying throughout the United States and even checks in with the international air space.

We are told that there is a problem with a dozen or perhaps less than that of a system called an AWOS. Let me give you a little explanation. AWOS is an acronym for automated weather observation system. It is a system that stands in airports and collects information on cloud cover, wind direction, and wind speed, barometric pressure, altimeter settings and so forth and so on. It's available to pilots who can call in on the telephone and get it directly from the system, or they can dial it up on their frequency in the aircraft and get this -- all of this information used in flight planning and in making a decision on whether to land at that airport what the weather is like.

A dozen or less of those stations in Iowa, we are told, are no longer reporting into the national weather system. They are supposed to automatically program that data out of their system and into the national weather system from time to time. But the AWOS, these automated weather observation systems, are working because the FAA says they have dialed into them directly by phone, and they can get the information that way. But those systems are no longer sending the information into the national weather system. Not sure why, not sure at this point whether they're FAA operated, state operated. Could be National Weather Service operated. But that's the first glitch.

Other than that, everything has been smooth sailing all along. There have been no problems with flights, no safety problems, no operational problems. And these automated weather observation systems, Bernie, would only affect someone who is going to land at that particular airport who needed the weather information. And quite frankly, we're told the weather in that area is quite good right now, and you could get into that. It wouldn't be available for flight planning. But if you wanted to land there, you could call up the information on the frequencies in your radio and your aircraft, or dial it up on the telephone and get that information.

So that's the first little bump here, Bernie. Other than that, things running very smoothly.

SHAW: Carl, what were officials there saying about the earlier rollover?

ROCHELLE: They said everything went just as planned. Jane Garvey, the administrator of the FAA, was up in an aircraft. She deliberately took off and flew through the Y2K time zone. Now midnight, Zulu time, or GMT is when the entire system rolled over, and that was 7:00 Eastern Time. So everyone was here right on their toes watching to see what would happen. Nothing happened. All the airplanes flew.

Jane Garvey called in and talked with Rodney Slater, the secretary of transportation, said everything was OK. Faxed a message to the president of the United States in the White House telling him that the aviation system was OK. Everything worked fine, and they used the term, if you will, everything was flying smoothly as they went through into the system, into the new year.

And the system has been operating in the new year for several hours now, even though it just passed through 1:00, which means that the system in Chicago has gone through in its Central Time zone has gone through its period of midnight and moving west, of course, the Mountain zone and the Pacific Coast zone out on California.

Jane Garvey will be landing in California at about 3:00 Eastern Time, Pacific Time. Anyway, she'll be crossing the last time zone within the continental United States at that time, Bernie, Judy.

WOODRUFF: Carl, so she may be landing at the empty airport in Los Angeles we saw earlier, too. Carl, just to be clear, be very clear with people who are watching, this automated weather observation system, this small problem is no reason for someone not to consider flying. Is that right?

ROCHELLE: Absolutely, Judy. It is -- literally, it is an automated little weather station, small. It's computer driven. It records the observations at that airport, and it would have no effect at all, even if you wanted to land at that airport, it'd have no effect because a plane flying over the airport could dial up that on its radio and listen to what the weather observations were at that airport at that time.

The only thing it's not doing is sending it into the main computer, so it's not available for your flight planning purposes if you're going in there. But if you want to know that badly, you could pick up the telephone and dial and get that information directly from that automated weather observation system. Absolutely no reason at all for anyone to consider any questions about safety or operational necessities involved with that, Judy.

WOODRUFF: All right, Carl Rochelle, thanks very much.

And now, we want to go to...

SHAW: Mexico City. Our bureau chief there, Harris Whitbeck.

HARRIS WHITBECK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fireworks continue, as you can see. And I know that earlier, you and Judy were talking about couples getting engaged and (INAUDIBLE) celebrating the millennium. I can't offer you that, but I can offer you a square full of people wearing red underwear. Let me try to explain that to you.

The tradition here in Mexico says that if you're wearing red undergarments as the new year arrives, that it will assure a lot of prosperity, a lot of love and a lot of good luck in the new year. So I can assure you that at least some of those 200,000 people who are out there are wearing bright red underwear tonight.

(CELEBRATIONS IN MEXICO CITY)

WHITBECK: And you're just watching the New Year's countdown. The fireworks continue here. People are now awaiting the start of a concert by Mexican singer Juan Gabriel. He is one of the foremost Mexican artists who sing mariachi music, which is the most traditional way of celebrating any big party here. That concert is going to start in a few minutes now, and the party here surely will last at least for another three or four hours. Back to you.

WOODRUFF: Harris Whitbeck filling us in on -- excuse me, Bernie, I was just munching a cookie. I was sneaking a bite. We're not supposed to sneak cookies on television.

SHAW: Oh, munching.

WOODRUFF: Some spectacular fireworks. And now we know the secret to successful celebration in Mexico. As he said, they were all wearing red underwear, he thinks.

SHAW: Well, he reported that. And we're going to pause for a moment. And as we leave you during this segment, this was the millennium in Acapulco to the south and on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.

(CELEBRATIONS IN ACAPULCO, MEXICO)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOODRUFF: Chicago, Illinois, pictures of Chicago, which is now 25, almost 26 minutes into the third millennium. From Chicago, we're going to go back to a city where it seems like it was hours ago that New York joined the new millennium. But actually, it was just an hour and 26 minutes ago. Our own Fred Hickman.

Fred, are you still there?

FRED HICKMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I am still standing by, Judy. And you know, that's so correct. I look down here now at Broadway and down toward Times Square, where there was once a sea of people, and now it's pretty much clearing up, and it didn't take long for the people to start to leave. But the people who are coming in now happen to be the guys wearing green, and they're carrying the long brooms trying to clear out some of this four tons of confetti.

If we could take a look down here at the intersection of 46th and Broadway, you can see that the police officers now are starting to move down the barricades, and the clean-up crews are in working, although the celebration, in essence, is going to continue until 6:00 a.m. until the last time zone crosses over into the new millennium into the year 2000.

But we do have some information to give you from the mayor's office, from the deputy mayor, in fact, who unofficially says that between two million and three million people were in Times Square to bring in the new year, between two and three million people - clearly smashing all records for any previous celebrations here to bring in a new year the 94 years they've been doing it.

Also, some great news from the mayor's office indicating that there were no Y2K glitches to report at this time. All electrical systems, all water systems, everything seems to be working just fine as we move into the year 2000.

So all and all, it's been great. It's been incident free. The people have been wonderful. I've seen police officers embracing different folks, just kind of walking along. We've seen people get engaged and dancing and, you know, mambo lines and the whole bit. So it's been a quite memorable situation here, quite incident free. And, boy, I wish every party were like this. Judy?

WOODRUFF: Well, Fred, you know, you make it look like a lot of fun, and it is a lot of fun, but it's also a lot of work. And I think the fact that New York City has been able to get this far without any troubling incident is in no small part due to the very hard work of a lot of security people, police, and a lot of other folks who were at their desks or doing their jobs. And I think the citizens of New York and the tourists in New York have them to thank. Wouldn't you say?

HICKMAN: Oh, I think that's absolutely true, Judy. Thirty-seven thousand police officers were on duty this evening, 8,000 in uniform, and that's not including all the people who were out of uniform and working in plain clothes, working in the streets here. Just the security operation was three years in the making, an operation by the -- that went by the code of "archangel." The FBI was working on it, the NYPD was working on it, so all of those people concerned with security.

As far as the citizens of New York, you can't say enough about them. It's hard to say how many of those people actually showed up here at the square. They say that a small percentage of New Yorkers actually make it here, and most of them happen to be tourists. I don't believe that. I think New Yorkers are a little bit tough, and maybe they don't want to admit they came down, but I think plenty of New Yorkers were here in Times Square tonight.

And everybody working in concert, all the business people here in the Times Square area, just pulled off a terrific job, and it was a real pleasure to be here.

WOODRUFF: They sure did, and I, you know, I read about the police -- even the police thought those MREs, meals ready to eat, enough for a 30-day supply. I also read that the city had a elevator SWAT team, a team of people ready to go around to different, I guess, skyscrapers in case the elevators broke down.

HICKMAN: Yeah.

WOODRUFF: No...

HICKMAN: Well, it's like they say, hope for the best and...

WOODRUFF: Exactly.

HICKMAN: ... see what you get.

WOODRUFF: Exactly. And then there was this other guy, this other familiar face on CNN, who has spent this evening and on into the wee hours in Washington, D.C. He's our own beloved Wolf Blitzer.

Wolf, are they still partying?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically, this place, the Washington Monument area, the Washington Reflecting Pool, the Lincoln Memorial, there are a few people still here, but it's basically emptied out. They got out shortly after 1:00 a.m., about a half an hour or so ago after another round of fireworks over the Lincoln Memorial. But the place was packed earlier. And at the stroke of midnight, there really was a spectacular demonstration of fireworks here in Washington. Let's take a replay of what occurred at midnight about 90 minutes ago.

And, of course, there was an enormous crowd here, probably not as big as Times Square, but for Washington standards, very, very big. They were packed along both sides of the Reflecting Pool. People had come from all over. Crowds much bigger than anticipated. Obviously, people encouraged to go out, A, by the relatively mild weather and, B, by the fact that there had been no serious Y2K computer glitches that had been reported in other time zones earlier in the day.

And people did revel here at the Washington Reflecting Pool, like some people got into the Reflecting Pool themselves. They were dancing, they were having a lot of fun. Everything was really, really smooth.

The District police, the park police, all of those involved in managing this very huge operation managed to get through without any serious incidents, and everyone seemed to be very, very happy. And as I said, now it's relatively -- there's only a few people who are left here. It's amazing how tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, Bernie and Judy, can come to an area like this, but within a matter of minutes, they've dispersed, they've gone home, or wherever they were going, but they're certainly not here anymore. Bernie, Judy?

WOODRUFF: Wolf, just one question about President Clinton's remarks. You've covered this man for most of his presidency up until very recently. Any thoughts, observations about what he had to say in the few minutes before midnight?

BLITZER: He was speaking for himself. He thought a lot about the six and a half minutes that he spoke about. The first lady was intimately involved in preparing all of these millennium operations over the past year and a half, and this was not just an overnight wonder what occurred here.

The president is now about to enter his last year in office. He's getting rather nostalgic by all accounts. He wants to now, the first year of this new millennium, this new century, squeeze as much as he possibly can in the remaining one year of his own presidency. He's going to be doing a lot. He's going to be very active. But I think some of that activity, some of the objectives that he wants to achieve in the coming year were reflected in the brief remarks just before midnight here at the Lincoln Memorial.

WOODRUFF: All right, Wolf Blitzer reporting from The Mall in Washington, D.C., where the celebration was big, it was spectacular. And as you see, it's starting to clear out now, but the likes of which Washington won't see for quite some time.

We're going to take a break. We're coming up on 27 minutes before 2:00 Eastern Time, but 27 minutes until the Mountain Time Zone and parts of Canada observe the new millennium. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

END

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