I'm a New Year's Eve curmudgeon -- it's by far my least favorite holiday -- but I managed to rouse myself and go down to Orleans Avenue to watch the all-new, all-safe, all-official, all-properly permitted bonfire. Folks were polite, and I certainly didn't see anyone being disrespectful to either the volunteers or the firefighters.
Edited to add: And here's Alex Rawls' opinion; color him unimpressed:
Last night was all about security. Five or six squad cars patrolled Orleans Avenue, one with an officer who breathed heavily and disturbingly into his loudspeaker as he circled the blocks in question. More police cars shut down Orleans Avenue at some point. A SWAT truck was there. The fire department had its Hazmat/WMD unit there in case Osama decided to strike insidiously. Next to the bonfire enclosure where another six or seven police and fire department cars, and officers patrolled on foot.
With no fireworks, the event was entirely passive as people waited for NOFD to provide some entertainment for them. With the designated firepit safely barricaded away from people, real estate along the barricade was valuable property so people claimed it. Not only would there be no running around the fire, but there would be no running around the barricade around the fire.
Crowd favorite moment by far was the appearance of Naked Girl, who stripped off her clothes, hopped the barricades and ran around the perimeter of the bonfire before being collared by the cops and handcuffed to the boos of the crowd (but not before all the local news cameras got a bunch of footage which will never air).
My favorite comment came from a guy next to me, who, watching the sad dead Christmas trees go up in the pyre, said, "This is a Charlie Brown bonfire."
What did you do at midnight?