Sadly, this will be the first New Year's Eve in my life spent without the much beloved Dick Clark. To many people Dick Clark IS New Year's Eve, as he hosted the perennial ABC program Dick Clark's Rockin' New Year's Eve live from Time's Square in New York City every year for over forty years.
Clark's death in April at the age of 82 brought an end one of the longest-standing holiday traditions in the US. For countless millions, it will be difficult to imagine celebrating the New Year without his presence. When the former American Bandstand legend began hosting the special forty-one years ago, no one—least of all Clark—realized how popular—even iconic— the event would become over the years.
Clark hosted the event even after suffering a series of health setbacks, including a near-crippling stroke which left him unable to speak. Through rigorous and often-painful therapy, he regained his speech and ability to walk and continued his hosting duties of the yearly spectacular. American Idol host Ryan Seacrest was brought in to help share some of the hosting responsibilities, but Clark was still a powerful presence, as he gave viewers his yearly New Year's blessing and kissed his wife of thirty-five years , Kari, with a champagne toast just as the clock struck midnight and the crystal ball descended, as Time's Square erupted into celebration frenzy, complete with a drunken rendition of "Auld Lang Syne", millions of pounds of ticker tape and a fireworks display.
No, it certainly won't be the same without spending my New Year's Eve with Dick Clark. ABC is planning a special two-hour memorial to honor Clark on tonight's broadcast, which begins at 8:00 Eastern Time.