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Time's running out on countdown to 2004

By Greg Gelpi

The countdown has started to 2004, and preparations are being made for New Year's Eve celebrations.

From football games to church services, Southern Crescent residents are gearing up to ring in the new year.

"I'm going to church," Lynda Boatwright of Stockbridge said. "I do the same thing every year."

Others, though, are preparing to toast the new year more boisterously.

Plans are set for a bash at Rusty's Food & Spirits, a sports bar in McDonough.

"We'll be packed out to the rim," owner Rusty Cook said.

Corks will be popping and balloons will be dropping as the band The Core rocks to classics, such as Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin, Cook said. At the stroke of midnight, nets will drop from the ceiling of the sports bar, releasing more than 100 balloons. Revelers will pop the balloons searching for prizes.

He has already bought enough New Year's supplies to give everyone party favors, hats and streamers.

A buffet will be served in the afternoon and steak and fish dinners will be served in the evening. The cost of the celebration is $30 per person and $50 per couple.

To bring New Year's festivities home, party supplies are stocked up and already selling all of the party essentials, R.C. Ike, the senior manager of Party City in Morrow, said.

"Everything but the alcohol is the way we look at it," Ike said. "We have more than a full aisle set up."

Included in that laundry list of party supplies are music, bar supplies, lava lamps, black lights, banners and balloons. Party City also has checklists to help make the perfect New Year's Eve celebration.

To make party shopping "nice and easy," Party City offers kits with supplies such as plates, cups and party favors, he said. The most popular items are black and gold, black and white, and black and silver decorations. Party City also sells 40-inch Mylar balloons shaped like "2004."

Shopping has been light so far, Ike said, but anticipated Wednesday, New Year's Eve, being the busiest day of the month.

For those who partake in too much celebrating and are too intoxicated to drive, the AAA Auto Club South and Budweiser will offer Tow to Go.

Tow to Go is a free service to those who have had too much to drink. A tow truck will be dispatched to bring people who are inebriated and their vehicles home safely, rather than risking dangerous driving, by calling (800) AAA-HELP.