New Year's Eve Memories; Riding Orange Bowl Parade Float Waving Everyone

Since it was a brrr evening, Mom gave me a "fur" wrap to put around my bare-shouldered evening gown for my perch in the downtown New Year's Eve Parade.

As soon as the floats moved out to Biscayne Boulevard, I doffed my ersatz cover-up and waved, winked and smiled at every face I saw.

Nothing beats riding on a float -- onlookers think you must be special to get chosen for the glamour and glittery cat-bird seat. You give out a million-dollar smile and make everyone happy by aiming your pearly-whites at people on the sidelines.

.After the parade, press card carriers were invited to bring dates or mates to the Columbus Roof for a fabulous sit-down New Year's dinner-dance. You didn't need to bring a date -- dancing was share-the-wealth.
Lack of support faded parades. Sports remain. There's money to be made. Parades cost the city, diminishing support widens the chasm between Anglo and Cuban traditions.

My cruise buddy Mary McGowan, who was raised in Charleston, S.C. knew her New Year's duty...sweep out the dirt, clean the floors and windows of your domicile. What cartoonists jibed poked fun of vaunted old-fashioned manners.
George Wilson was famous for his New Year's Day backyard Hoppin' John alfresco party.
Owner of Holsum Bakery, the Coral Gables City Commissioner cooked "hawg jawls" and black-eyed peas for his and wife Jane's close buds, whose catbird seats overlooking the Coral Gables Canal from their terraced hill made them look like colorful florals from a distance.

Good luck is guaranteed with Southern accents. In Italy, giving their lady red underwear for New Year's brings good fortune. Latins believe a new pair of yellow panties evoke four-leaf clover positives.

Southern traditions manifest ham, cabbage and black-eyed peas. And a bowl of noodles prolongs good luck. Eating 12 grapes at midnight, one for each stroke, promises lofty lives. In Venezuela, put suitcases on the doorstep to coax good times.
Make sure you can trust your neighbors and don't live on a highway to end on a positive note.