Washington Plans Events to Mark Millennium

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WASHINGTON -- Tourism officials in the nation's capital are planning a yearlong celebration of the millennium that will highlight the country's history and cultural diversity.

"It needs to be more than a big party," said Ellen Lovell, head of the White House millennium council. Lovell is working with local civic and cultural groups.

Speaking before a group of tourism representatives here, he said the theme for the millennium celebration will be "Honor the Past, Imagine the Future."

Although plans are in the early stages, Lovell said, the event will encompass heritage trails that will enable visitors to follow in the footsteps of such historical figures as abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Red Cross founder Clara Barton.

Many of the familiar symbols of America's heritage, such as an original 18th century flag and a copy of the U.S. Constitution, will be restored in time for the celebration, Lovell said.

The year 2000 marks milestones for people and institutions associated with the nation's capital. Included among them are the 200th anniversaries of John Adams' moving into the brand-new White House and the founding of the Library of Congress. Tourism officials are developing an information clearinghouse for events associated with 2000.

Meanwhile, Washington is celebrating tourism figures from last year, one of the city's best in recent times. "It will be a difficult year to beat," said Marie Tibor, vice president of communications and tourism for the Washington Convention and Visitors Association.

According to the association, hotel occupancy averaged 70% in 1997, the highest level in a decade, and attendance figures for area attractions were strong. At the Smithsonian Institution museums, the number of visitors soared to 27 million, up 22% over 1996.

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