IN NEW YORK, Times Square is the place to be on New Year's Eve. In Baltimore, the celebration that draws the most tTC people is at the Inner Harbor. And while there's no gaudy ball to drop, Baltimoreans revel in an awesome fireworks exhibition.
This year's fireworks display has a warm-up act: an animated laser show, beginning 10 minutes before midnight. The lasers will project sea creatures, choreographed to music and beamed on the side of the National Aquarium, to salute the opening of the Aquarium's new Marine Mammal Pavilion. The count-down to midnight will be projected on the World Trade Center.
Before the fireworks, consider hitting one good party -- or five. Outdoors at the Harborplace Ampitheatre, the Scott Cunningham Blues Band will perform from 9 p.m. to midnight. Admission is free.
Moving indoors, the city and Diet Pepsi are will sponsor "Party With a Pop," a family-oriented celebration with free soft drinks and snacks and no alcohol. Five parties with music ranging from calypso to golden oldies will take place in the Convention Center from 9 to 11:30 p.m. The featured bands will be calypso artists Mama Jama, the a cappella oldies group Regency, and The Mahoney Brothers, who re-create performances from the 50s and '60s. Comedian Blaine Capatch will share time with Regency, and party-goers will be able to record their own melodies in the Super Star Booth. Admission to the Convention Center is $7 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and younger. Tickets will be sold in the lobby of the World Trade Center before the party. Call 837-4636 for details.
Also bound to appeal to teen-agers is a triple-header concert at 7 p.m. at the Baltimore Arena. Keith Sweat and Johnny Gill are the headliners, with former New Edition performers Bell Biv and Devoe serving as the opening act. Tickets are $22.50. Call 347-2010 for further information.
The Brokerage will be a place to wander from one party to another as its bars and restaurants celebrate the new year. Louisiana Cafe will host the jazz band Moon August at a dinner show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $50 and include dinner, a champagne toast at midnight and the entertainment. Reservations are necessary and can be made by calling 547-1111. At Slapsticks Comedy Club, Kelly Monteith will be the headline act and Brett Harlow the emcee for two sets, either at 8 p.m. for $12 single admission, or at 10:30 p.m. for $40 single admission or $75 per couple. The 10:30 show will include an open bar, a live band and dancing after the show, a split of champagne, and an all-you-can-eat breakfast after midnight. Reservations are necessary and can be made by calling 659-7527.
Also at the Brokerage, Baltimore's Original Sports Bar has a party planned for 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. with music by Burst of Silence, a buffet, free champagne toast at midnight followed by continental breakfast. Tickets are $15. Call 244-0135 for details. Fat Tuesday's will offer a party with music by the Rattle Cats and free favors and a champagne toast at midnight for $3. Call 727-4822 for more information. Cara's Cafe will host on a free party offering live jazz, a complimentary champagne toast at midnight, noisemakers and a buffet. Find out more by calling 752-4880.
For an elegant evening, waltz into the hotels ringing the harbor.
The Sheraton Inner Harbor holds a nautical New Year's party with a s reception of champagne and hors d'oeuvres from 7:30 to 9 p.m., followed by dancing to Odyssey and dining on foods from Hong Kong, Naples, New Orleans and Baltimore. There will be champagne and party favors at midnight. Tickets are $179 per couple and includes parking. Reservations are suggested. Call 962-8300, Ext. 7117 for details.
"Midnight Magic" is the theme of a gala at Stouffer Harborplace Hotel from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m. The grand ballroom will be filled with strolling magicians, palm and tarot card readers, and illusions will be performed on stage. There will also be a swing band and orchestra, dinner and open bar. Tickets are $125 single or $250 per couple by reservation only. Call Stouffer's New Year's Eve Hotline, 547-1200, for details.
Golden Oldies will flavor the New Year's party at the Omni Inner Harbor Hotel from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. There will be live entertainment from The Angels and The Tokens, an open bar, four-course dinner, midnight champagne, party favors and balloon drop. Tickets are $119 per couple. Reservations are recommended. Call 385-6450, for details.
The Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor will hold a black-tie optional celebration from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Included are two drinks plus champagne at midnight, party favors, and entertainment by three bands playing big band, Top 40 and Motown music. Tickets are $40 per person. Tickets are available in advance, by calling 528-1234, or at the door.
For those who feel like roaming, most of the hotels will have a variety of parties.