Commentary: Planning for New Year 2010

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, January 9, 2009

I did not attend Sacramento's first ever New Years Eve Ball drop but my 20-something daughter did. Her assessment jibes with The Bee's editorial about the event. Scary. The city dodged a bullet. We are lucky there was not a stampede, that people didn't get trampled.

Don't get me wrong. It was a good idea. I was impressed that the city was able to attract 20,000 people to the K Street Mall. But execution was flawed. My daughter saw several fist fights break out but no cops intervened. The police stayed towards the outside of the crowd, seemingly oblivious to the fighting inside that huge mass of New Years Eve revelers.

As it moved closer to midnight, people started shoving. The crowd surged forward. My daughter panicked, lost all interest in the ball drop - just wanted to get out of there.

She and her friends started easing their way to the edge of the crowd, and escape. The day after, their talk wasn't about all the fun they'd had, but about fear.

The lesson for New Years Eve 2010?  Don't skip the K Street Ball Drop - learn from 2009. Plan early. Have something for people to do. Keep restaurants and shops open. Most important, bring in more cops for crowd control. Make it a fun New Year - not a scary one.


Ginger Rutland writes for The Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.