Party Thrown for Sept. 11 Victims' Relatives

As many Americans plan subdued ways to welcome in 2002, a catering hall on Long Island will open its doors to the relatives of Sept. 11 victims and rescue workers for New Year's Eve.

The Huntington Town House on Long Island is throwing its annual New Year's Eve party, for which it will charge $75 per person. But the relatives of Sept. 11 victims and rescue workers are invited to attend, free of charge.

"I feel God's been very good to me in my life, and I wanted to give something back," Rhona Silver, the owner of the catering hall, said on Good Morning America. "I came up with the idea of inviting relatives who will be alone, or who need a place to go. Instead of being by themselves, they can be part of a party."

Because of Sept. 11, many Americans are expected to skip their usual New Year's revelry, instead spending the holiday on the couch, with family, friends and pets snuggled in close by. Many restaurants and clubs are offering cheaper tickets to parties this year, in the hopes of reeling in reluctant revelers. About 20 of the 200 cities that normally offer First Night celebrations have cancelled them this year.

A Vigil and A Party

About 1,500 people are expected to attend the Huntington Town House event, including about 200 people in from as far away as New Jersey and Staten Island, who were directly impacted by Sept. 11.

There will be a candlelight vigil for those who were lost. At the same time, the gathering will also honor firefighters, who have seen so much grief within their ranks this year, Silver said. Even those who were not directly affected have been changed by what happened, but they hope to offer fun for all, amid that sorrow.

"When you come in we're going to have a candlelight vigil, then you'll go upstairs and have a great time and party and have a fabulous New Year's," said Elliott Hurdy, Silver's husband. "We can't take back what happened, but we can make it the start of something fresh, a new year."

There will be a party for 21 to 35-year-olds, and a separate party for those over 35.

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