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Democrat Photo by Matt Youngfrau

THE LIBERTY BELL, festooned with lights, descends from its perch on top of the Liberty Museum and Arts Center as the countdown comes to an end and December 31, 2000 changes into January 1, 2001.

Happy New Year
Means a Happy Couple

By Matt Youngfrau
LIBERTY — January 5, 2001 – Each New Year, people gather together, wait for the new year, and sing “ Auld Lang Syne”. For Sean Hanofee and Rose Callihan, this New Year’s Eve they chose instead to remember each other and take a step towards spending the rest of their lives together.
Hanofee was one of the organizers of the fifth annual Liberty Bell Drop at the Liberty Museum and Arts Center on December 31, 2000. The event was sponsored by the museum and the Greater Liberty Chamber of Commerce. Each year, they throw a party at the museum and count down to midnight. At midnight, a Liberty Bell drops, constructed five years ago by Liberty artists Lee Parks and Linda Berkowitz (they were assisted by a handful of Liberty High School students). This year, Liberty’s Poet Laureate, Walter Keller, lowered the bell at midnight to ring in the new year.
But at 11:50 p.m., Hanofee addressed the several hundred people who gathered for the event. He asked Callihan to come up and join him before the bell dropped. Once she was by his side, Hanofee dropped to one knee and proposed. The crowd cheered and encouraged Callihan to accept the proposal. She did, the couple embraced, and the crowd roared its approval.
“What can I say about the proposal?”, one of the event organizers, Chris Gozza, commented. “She will make a lovely bride. I have never seen a better show of camaraderie and spirit. As usual, Liberty did not disappoint.”
“This was a great community event,” remarked Hanofee. “It is the only thing of its type in the county. It just illustrates the spirit of the community.”
Before the bell dropped, the Liberty Middle School Band played for the crowd. Noisemakers, streamers, and confetti were given out to the crowd before midnight. At midnight, the bell dropped, and once again the crowd erupted.
“The new year should be shared by the young and old,” Sullivan County Legislator Jodi Goodman stated. “It is nice to see so many children out.”
The new millineum brought out many to share and enjoy the moment. For Hanofee and Callihan, though, the end of the old year marked the beginning of a new life together.

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