Miss-Lou rings in new year with a bang

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 1, 2000

The new millennium came in with a bang … and only a bang.

A thick blanket of fog carpeted the Miss-Lou at midnight Friday, limiting visibility to less than a city block, and virtually shutting out any chance of spectators enjoying the fireworks display on the Mississippi River and adding new worries to the Y2K rollover.

It was, as Adams County Civil Defense Director George Souderes said, &uot;probably the best fireworks I never saw.&uot;

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Even Sammy Porter, whose United Mississippi Bank co-sponsored what was supposed to be a spectacular fireworks display with Lady Luck and Southwest Distributors, said he didn’t see much of the fireworks.

&uot;The people down on the bluff couldn’t see it,&uot; said Adams County Sheriff Tommy Ferrell. &uot;At some places, it’s almost 2 feet. It’s just low, low visibility.&uot;

Instead, folks with a yen for fireworks could tune in to televised live, around-the-clock coverage of worldwide New Year’s Eve celebrations. The celebrations and events quickly became the focal point of the much-awaited arrival of Y2K as computer, communication and transportation systems around the world rolled over with little or no problems.

&uot;This is probably the most successful unevent I’ve been involved with in a long time,&uot; Ferrell said.

Traffic was low – in part aided by the fog and in part aided by numerous private parties – and Ferrell’s office had received only a few routine calls as of 11:30 p.m. &uot;We have a world of people on stand-by, and there are just no events occurring.&uot;

As firework blasts echoed across the city of Natchez, emergency officials throughout the Miss-Lou worried about the dangers of the fog.

&uot;If we can keep people from running over poles, we’ll be all right,&uot; said Forest Persons, customer service manager for Entergy.

Person’s stand-by crew, like others, had been watching the day’s events on television and was prepared for the &uot;unevent.&uot;

&uot;We’re just sitting around eating chips and dips and bored stiff,&uot; he said shortly before midnight.

Inside city limits, Natchez Police Chief Willie Huff said his officers were &uot;more worried about the guns than the fireworks.&uot; A bullet struck a house on East Oak Street shortly after midnight, and area residents complained of repeated gunshots.

And, because an ordinance bans shooting of fireworks within city limits, officers were responding to repeated complaint calls. &uot;Every time you hear one pop, we get a call,&uot; Huff said.

Elsewhere, fog was cited as the cause of a 10-car accident in Wilkinson County and two accidents in Catahoula Parish, La. Details were not available at press time.