"Maybe this is the end of the world," she said, sitting on scaffolding 20 feet above the pavement. "I wish the world would hold on until I've finished putting on all the roses."
New Orleans put its stamp on the close of 1999 with a jazz funeral. A black hearse drawn by white horses wound its way through the French Quarter as the Treme Brass Band played, "A Closer Walk With Thee."
Throughout the country, Americans looked for innovative ways to mark the new year.
In State College, Pa., they rang bells, cymbals, gongs and a Javanese glockenspiel. In Front Royal, Va., they dedicated a sun dial created to welcome the year 2000. A 12-foot high, 33-ton peace bell in Newport, Ky., tolled every hour to mark the new year as it arrived around the world.
"I think anything you can do to promote peace is worthwhile, and this is really impressive," said Mark Raleigh, 32, one of about 200 Kentuckians on hand for the bell-ringing.
Residents of Cadillac, Mich., planned to sit for a citywide picture postcard.
In Steamboat Springs, Colo., ski instructors and others led a torchlight parade down the mountain.
Atlanta lighted 38 buildings and 211 trees in white along a mile of Peachtree Street. In Boston, a 22-ton ice gate was to stretch across Frog Pond as a prelude to a chariot race.
In Seattle, New Year's Eve was more or less a private affair. The arrest of a suspected terrorist at a ferry crossing near Seattle 2 1/2 weeks ago led city officials to cancel the annual fandango at Seattle's Space Needle, an event that usually drew 20,000 participants.
Walt Crowley, a Seattle history professor, supported the cancellation because of the city's troubles during the November meeting of the World Trade Organization. Peaceful demonstrations turned riotous on the opening day of the meeting, trashing the downtown and tarring the city's image.
"This town needs a break after WTO," he said.
"The whole event, notwithstanding WTO, sounded like an invitation to a riot."
Crowley planned, like many Americans, to spend New Year's Eve with his neighbors -- and possibly take a midnight stroll through the zoo. (His neighbor runs the zoo.)
"It's not like Seattle is hunkered in the bunker," said Crowley. "There are lot of other parties around town."
Around the nation, thoughts and good wishes for the new year were placed in time capsules, stuffed into charm pouches and planted beside pine trees.
If "Auld Lange Syne" was the song of the moment, Sully Diaz hoped to hear a different tune at the stroke of midnight. Diaz, an actress in San Juan, Puerto Rico, wanted something a tad more celestial to ring in the New Year.
"Since it is such a special year," she told pollsters from the San Juan Star newspaper, "I would love to hear the title track of the movie, `2001: A Space Odyssey' because it sort of implies something big is going to happen."
In the heart of the Florida Everglades, the rock band Phish led 80,000 dancing, shouting, cheering fans at an all-night New Year's Eve party.
As large balloons floated over head and a Ferris wheel spun acres away, drumbeats and guitar riffs filled the air as the sun began to set on the final day of 1999. Concert-goers came from around the country for the three-day event at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation.
"I've known I was going to come here since 1993," said Kevin Burke, a 27-year-old Internet worker who traveled from Thousand Oaks, Calif.
The celebratory cheers throughout the land were tempered by some somber moments.
Patty Meyer and her husband, Helmut, designed a labyrinth path at their home in Victor, Mont., for a contemplative New Year's walk. It took them a year and 25 tons of rock to build the 1.3-mile-long path.
"I see it as having lots of uses as a way to escape our busy everyday life and go into a more peaceful place," Meyer said.
"I think people are looking for something that can bring more meaning to their lives.
In Silicon Valley, the first New Year's baby born at El Camino Hospital in Mountain View, Calif., will have a head start. The infant will receive $500 worth of high-tech stock, said Judy Twitchell, a hospital spokeswoman.
"It's a small portfolio, but a great remembrance of the booming financial times in which this lucky first baby is born."
News services and Sun staff writers David Greene, Myron Beckenstein, Marego Athans, Jean Marbella and Joe Mathews, along with contributor Lou Ferrara, contributed to this article.