I wasn't surprised to read the three Jan. 4 letters criticizing the District's New Year's Eve celebration at the Lincoln Memorial, but from where I stood well east of the Vietnam Memorial, I could see the stage, as well as the several large TV screens. When I tried, I also could hear the speeches.

It was unfortunate, but I didn't have the greatest view of the Washington Monument as it lit up during the countdown, but that had more to do with my standing behind several trees than with organizers failing to address my individual needs and those of each of the hundreds of thousands in attendance.

When I showed up Friday, I found a jubilant crowd and a sense of patriotism I haven't felt or seen in a long time. I doubt the sense of security would have been there if the organizers had not gone to the extent that they did to provide security and logistical support. They should be commended.

Sure, everything was not perfect. But instead of complaining that the organizers didn't address my every desire, I'm happy that I had as good a time as I did.



To improve on future celebrations on the Mall:

* Move the party to either the Capitol or the Washington Monument. The distance to a Metro site from the Lincoln Memorial is too far, and the site is too small with too much good viewing space taken up by the reflecting pool.

* Erect large screens at strategic points around the celebration area.

* Allow vendors to sell items during the celebration. The nearest street vendor was more than nine blocks away and sold only pop. It was cold, and some people may have wanted something hot.

* If we must have security, provide more entries. And have vendors and toilets available for those waiting in line. I arrived about 8:30 p.m. and waited more than 1 1/2 hours.

* If there is a celebration next year, all the fireworks should go off after midnight. I walked from the memorial to the Ronald Reagan Building after the first set of fireworks. I knew there were to be later fireworks, but with kids, I wanted to have them moving to stay warm and to get closer to a Metro stop by the time they did go off. The streets were full with others leaving too.