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New Year's Holiday

The Omaha Daily News, on December 31, 1900, reported on the city's plans to greet a new year. According to the News: "Amid imposing religious services, the ringing of bells, the glare of light and the 'sound of revelry by night' Omaha will usher in the twentieth century at 12 o'clock tonight. The celebrations of the notable event in this city will be as different in character as they will be numerous. Nearly all of the churches will hold watch services, the Elks' lodge will hold a stag social session, and the streetcar motormen and conductors will celebrate by manning their cars until 2 o'clock in the morning to accommodate the crowds of merrymakers, who will not retire until long after the midnight hour.

"The stag entertainment to be given by the Elks will be a musical treat. Barnabee and McDonald of the Bostonians are expected to be present, and the male performers of the famous opera company will contribute greatly to the enjoyment of the occasion. Members of the Orpheum and Trocadero companies are also down on the program.

"At Trinity Cathedral, a union service of the Episcopal churches will be held. A minute before midnight the Trinity chimes will ring out the old and then, remaining silent for a moment to mark the passing of the century, they will ring in the new." A number of other scheduled church observances were listed.

The Daily News reported the next day, January 1, 1901, that the festivities and services had been successful and generally well attended. The Thurston Rifles had added to the occasion by firing "with a brass cannon in front of their armory. A firing squad with muskets helped make things lively in that vicinity."

The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on January 1 took a sanguine view of the new century: "This is a good world, and these are good times in which to live. . . . The nations begin the new century with more opportunities for the average citizen and more comforts and luxuries for all of the people than they had in any of the centuries of the past. The man who feels like making the morning of the twentieth century the occasion of a dismal impeachment on the condition of society and the failure of the natural scheme for the distribution of the good things of this world deserves to go through the holiday on fasting rations."

(December 1999)



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