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Democrat Photo by Nathan Mayberg

THIS "CAKE" WAS actually on a float at First Night in Monticello that kicked off Monticello's 200th birthday celebration, which will last all year.

Thousands Welcome
The New Year

By Nathan Mayberg and Dan Hust
MONTICELLO/LIBERTY — January 6, 2003 – The coming of the New Year was handled bravely in Monticello by hundreds of residents who paraded and stood in well-below-freezing temperatures for about two hours New Year’s Eve on Broadway.
It was handled equally well by about 500 people in Liberty, who gathered on North Main Street to witness the dropping of the village’s own “Liberty Bell.”
Both celebrations were organized by First Night. In Monticello, huge figures standing about 25-30 feet were carried by marchers up St. John Street, down Broadway and back. A group of almost two dozen students performed dance moves.
Fire trucks decorated with lights also made their way down the heart of Monticello. Most of the marchers were made up of Monticello middle and high school students. Several colorful floats also paraded down the route.
One of the floats was organized by the village’s Bicentennial Committee. Ariel Escobar, who chaired the float committee for the group, said his group "spent many hard hours working" on a "cake float" made out of cardboard.
One of the more interesting features of the night was the performance of the Bronx Opera at St. John’s Episcopal Church. Several members of the group took turns performing classics such as a piece by the Italian composer Rossini. Other artists that were featured included Bach on the cello, Brahms (with cello and soprano vocals), Cole Porter’s famous "Night and Day," a portion of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The Sound of Music” and Bernstein’s “West Side Story.”
In Liberty, there were some performances and special events by local businesses, but most of the fanfare occurred at midnight when the Liberty Bell was dropped from the third story of the Liberty Museum and Arts Center.
Police blocked off a section of North Main Street, and the bell dropped slowly to an excited countdown by the crowd on the street.
A neon sign flashed from “2003” to “2004” minutes after midnight – although according to the slightly slow Liberty Presbyterian Church’s clock, the bell fell right on schedule.

Democrat Photo by Dan Hust

AS THE “LIBERTY Bell” touched down in front of the Liberty Museum and Arts Center on Wednesday, a neon sign changed from “2003” to “2004,” and the crowd of hundreds on North Main Street clapped, hugged and kissed each other to welcome the New Year.

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