Seattle Mayor Cancels City's New Year's Eve Celebration

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - While saying chances of a terrorist attack may be remote, Seattle, Washington Mayor Paul Schell announced late Monday that the New Year's Eve celebration set for the Seattle Center has been cancelled.

Schell said in a statement, "We do not want to take chances with public safety."

Afternoon concerts and circuses set for the Seattle Center will still take place as planned on Friday and fireworks welcoming in the New Year will still be set off at midnight but the center will be cleared at 6 pm, Friday night, according to the mayor.

An already booked private New Year's Eve function set for the top of Seattle's famed "Space Needle" will still be allowed to proceed.

Vivian Phillips, a spokesperson for the mayor said Schell decided not to court disaster by inviting thousands to the Seattle Center while the threat of terrorism is still in the air. She also said the city has received no new terrorism warnings since the arrest earlier this month of Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian who tried to bring bomb making components into the country at Port Angeles on the border with Canada and who had a one night reservation at a Seattle hotel.

Schell added in a statement to the press, "There is no specific threat against Seattle Center, according to the FBI and the Justice Department. But, international media coverage of the event makes it impossible for federal officials to rule out the area as a terrorist target. It is safer to be prudent. This is already an unprecedented, unpredictable New Year's and we did not want to take chances with the public safety, no matter how remote the threat might seem. It is also a time following World Trade Organization demonstrations for the city to take a breather from tension."

Schell's action drew support from many Seattle City Council members.

Council President Sue Donaldson said in a statement, "These are unusual times; we want people to observe New Year's Eve safely, and we decided that encouraging crowds at Seattle Center was unwise under the circumstances."