Geography: Dick Clark, Please Report to the Date Line

May 2, 2004
Outside Magazine
Outside magazine, July 1996

Geography: Dick Clark, Please Report to the Date Line

Where will you be when it's time to party like it's 1999?
By John Galvin

The year 2000 may be four sweeps through the calendar away, but the race to throw the biggest New Year's Eve happening has begun in earnest. And as with all endeavors where big money's at stake, the players are focusing on a familiar maxim: location, location, location.

"The trick," explains Brad Roberts of the London-based firm FirstLight 2000, which will be holding a beach party in the South Pacific island chain known as the Chathams, "is booking a spot that's close to the international date line. Our party actually we're having two, one with rock stars and one that will be devoted to world peace--is just 50 miles away. We'll see the sun rise before anybody."

Or will they? The island nation of Kiribati, which has long been bisected by the date line, passed a law last year essentially moving the demarcation to the east so that it circumvents the islands. The stated reason: so that all of Kiribati's islands would have the same date and time. But conveniently, one will now be struck by the sun's morning rays before any other inhabited landmass on earth. "I'm curious as to what their ulterior motive may be," says Roberts, chagrined that his plans are unraveling.

The last laugh, however, may go to yet another party planner. London's First Dawn Celebrations is taking reservations for a double-barreled luau on the island nations of Tonga and Western Samoa. They're a little bit farther from the date line, but this fete has a different selling point. After watching the sun rise on January 1, revelers will board a jet and cross the dateline for another party, ringing in the New Year not just earlier than most places on earth, but twice. We'll keep you posted.

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