Dakota Datebook

New Year’s Eve in ND

Monday, December 31, 2007

Thirty-nine years ago today, North Dakotans faced the same holiday issues they do today. People may have complained then and now that there’s nothing to do in Bismarck. Where to go, what to do, and how to measure worth is as important as it ever was. So how do you measure a North Dakotan New Year’s?
Well, according to one writer of the Bismarck Tribune, there are many pluses to spending New Year’s in Bismarck. Sure, he said, “There’s no way to compare a cork-popping celebration in Bismarck with one in the nation’s most famous and sophisticated celebration city—New York.” The big city was full of excitement and live entertainment.
However, despite lacking entertainment like Martha and the Vandellas—a Motown group you may remember through the song “Dancing in the Streets”— and striptease artist Lili St. Cyr, New Year’s Eve could be far less expensive in North Dakota, according to the author. No need to pay for parking, for long cab rides, for food minimums, tips, and other such miscellaneous expenses. Moreover, a meal of something like filet mignon that cost between four and a half and five dollars in the Bismarck-Mandan area, would cost more even at the most base spot in New York. It could be as expensive as thirty dollars, though prices changed at different locales. That’s as much as Lili the striptease artist cost at her lowest price, according to the article. And that price didn’t include all of the miscellaneous prices New York celebrators had to pay.
“Bismarckers will at least have the last laugh to start the New Year, a pocketbook not entirely empty,” the writer continued.
He also stated that in North Dakota, after the festivities, home is closer for the celebrants. And that’s a good thing, since the old year of 1968 was leaving just as it came in, according to the paper—“bitter cold. …Last Dec. 31, the mercury slid to a record 43 degrees below zero.” Snow was expected at the end of 1968, too, and in fact, even a few days into the New Year, temperatures were to stay 20 to 25 degrees below zero.
And for those who drank away the cold that night? Tips listed in the New Year’s Eve edition of the Bismarck Tribune helped prepare people to deal with the “king-sized hangover” they might get, despite any resolution.
This New Year’s Eve may not reach as cold of temperatures this year as they did then, and it may have different sorts of parties, but some aspects remain the same.
Not much has changed in thirty-nine years.
Have a safe, North Dakota holiday.
Written by Sarah Walker
December 31, 1968, Tuesday, p.1 p.2, p.5
Jan. 2, 1969, Thursday, p.1

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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