I know I’m going to shed a tear tonight. I feel myself welling up already and I’ve been thinking about this day since I heard the news that Dick Clark died. Dick Clark was New Year’s Eve to me. I watched Dick Clark on New Year’s Eve ever since my parents allowed me to stay up and watch the celebration at the age of twelve in 1970. As a teenager, no matter what slamming party my friends and I were at, at 11:45 the party stopped and all eyes were focused on the TV, Dick Clark and the big ball that was about to drop to welcome in the New Year. Millions of other party guests, club hoppers and just plain folks sitting in front of the TV were tuned in all over America to watch Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve.
In my twenties, I would be at a nightclub or house party and the same thing would occur. All activity would stop until Mr. Clark said “Happy New Year.” It didn’t matter to me that people in other parts of the world either had celebrated or were preparing to celebrate the New Year based upon the time zone that they were in. In my mind, the New Year wasn’t officially the New Year until Dick Clark made the official announcement.
As I’ve gotten older and people have become crazier, I found myself going out less on New Year’s Eve. For the last twelve or so years, I’ve relegated myself to either having a few friends over for some homemade gumbo (created by yours truly) and a full bar or sitting up with my family enjoying the festivities sipping on my favorite cognac over ice, Martell Cordon Bleu. Whatever the case has been, I never missed Dick Clark ringing in the New Year; except the one year I got cajoled and harassed by my family into attending church on New Year’s Eve. We didn’t get out of service until 2 in the morning!
Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve (which will continue with Dick Clark’s co-host Ryan Seacrest) was the epitome of what a New Year’s celebration should be. It had glamor. It had big stars, and it gave us new stars and one hit wonders. It was hip and square at the same time. Grandma could watch it with the Junior Mafia and both would be entertained. Only Dick Clark could transcend race, culture, musical genres, politics and the great ethnic divide that exists in America and bring us all together as one to celebrate the promise of another new year in America.
I offer my best wishes to Ryan Seacrest on the continuation of Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rocking Eve. He has humongous shoes to fill; just like Kobe had to do when Jordan retired (sorry Lebron). Mr. Seacrest will do fine and in a few years I will probably feel good about tuning in to see him bring in the New Year. But this New Year’s Eve… I’ll be missing Dick Clark.