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NEW YEAR'S TO BOW IN AGAIN WITH SAFE PARTY

After last year's Celebrate Eden activities were delayed a day by a massive snowfall, volunteers on the steering committee got together to decide whether to play host to another New Year's Eve bash.

Chairwoman Karen Smith said the committee wanted to see if there was enough interest by committee members to put on the drug- and alcohol-free evening for the eve of 2000.

"We decided we should try at least one more year to try to generate enough interest," she said. "In the future, I don't know what will happen."

While the event is called Celebrate Eden, the committee hopes to attract people from other area towns as well. "We're here for the Southtowns," Smith said.

With the help of dozens of volunteers, Celebrate Eden will kick off its fourth year at 7 p.m. Friday at the Eden Junior-Senior High School on Schoolview Road. Activities will continue until midnight, when a giant fireworks display will take place outside the school.

Admission buttons cost $6.

The event has evolved during the past several years, and there are some new attractions this year.

"We've really expanded our inflatable area a bit to include Laser Tag," Smith said.

Inflatable games for children, such as a bounce house, will operate from 7 to 11:45 p.m. in Cafeteria B. Laser Tag and big inflatables, such as a giant slide, pedestal jousting, Velcro wall and more will be located in the gymnasium during those same hours.

The faculty room will be transformed into a game room for the evening, and the Eden Alumni Association will operate a coffee house in the library. The main foyer will become a food court.

The pool will be open for swimming from 7 to 11, and snowmobile rides will be provided by Eden Trailblazers from 7 to 9:30 near the greenhouse behind the school.

The auditorium will be the site of performances throughout the evening by Carlini the Magician, Lo Blu Flame and the Return of Elvis. Festivity Sound featuring today's music and sounds can be heard in the auxiliary gym, and Zorba the Psychic will offer 10-minute readings in Room 135.

Parking will be available outside the high school, and at Eden's two other schools, also located on Schoolview Drive. Shuttle buses will provide transportation to the high school.

"The reason we do it is to keep people safe and happy together," Smith said.

The event has attracted several thousand in past years, but Smith said she has no idea what to expect this year: "We are totally up in the air about the numbers."

Admission buttons may be purchased through today at Marine Midland Bank, Smith Hardware and Convenient Food Mart, all in Eden, Eden Seafood, Eden Shurfine, Lakewood Health Care Center and Helthco Discount Store in Hamburg and Shelly's Convenience in North Collins.