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Friday, December 31, 1999

Peace Bell rings in New Year for Tristaters

Enquirer contributor

NEWPORT - Eugene Schadle never saw anything so beautiful.

Mr. Schadle was one of today's earliest visitors to the Millennium Monument World Peace Bell celebration at the corner of Fourth and York streets. Though the 72-year-old Highland Heights man didn't plan to stay until the "Ring In 2000" climax at midnight, he called the 33-ton bell “unbelievable.”

“It's the prettiest sight I've seen in years,” Mr. Schadle said. “I want to go up and touch that bell.”

Though visitors weren't allowed to do that Friday, the bell nonetheless thrilled most who saw it.

“When I started 11 years ago, I would never have expected something like this,” said Newport Police Officer Jim Boyers, a Newport native.

Beginning at 6 a.m., a burst of fireworks and ringing of the bell at the top of each hour signaled the beginning of the New Year in one of the world's 24 time zones. After the bell chimed, representatives of each zone sang or performed native dances.

A few seconds before midnight, Gov. Paul Patton will push the button to activate the bell's electric motors and set it ringing in the New Millennium for the Tristate.

Workers outnumbered visitors when the bell rang at 8 a.m. to signify the start of 2000 in Micronesia and Australia. But Tony Schmidt, 15, of Falmouth, was there with cousins Alex and Nathan Webb, who live a few blocks away on Overton Street in Newport.

"It was pretty cool," Tony said of the bell. "The hammer didn't go back very far, and it made a lot of noise."

Shortly after the 8 a.m. ringing, Yuri Maizels and his son Michael, natives of St. Petersburg, Russia, who now live in Mount Washington and Anderson Township, respectively, played Russian, Polynesian and New Zealand songs on their oboe and flute.

"We, who were born in Russia, playing in the middle of the U.S., it's symbolic," the younger Mr. Maizels said.

Gabriel Utazi, a 22-year-old senior at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, chose the celebration as the topic for his senior thesis. His "Millennium Melting Pot" consists of six sketches depicting scenes in Australia, China, India, Israel, England and America.

"It's the bringing together of the cultures," said Mr. Utazi, of Newtown. "It's the idea, we're all alike, we're all the same."

Many early visitors said seeing the bell makes them think world peace is a reachable goal.

"Peace is an ultimate imperative," said Jane Ruhmkorff, 64, who ran three miles from her downtown Cincinnati home. "I'm convinced we cannot achieve it in this world's lifetime. I do think good can overcome the evil. We're making strides."

Added Sayuri Jones, who lives in Crestview Hills and is a native of Fukuoka, Japan: "I want to keep the peace for the children."

©Copyright 1999, Cincinnati Enquirer

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