[A]t least two [Utah] cities will eagerly embrace 2007 a full 24 hours before it actually arrives in order to appeal to Mormons.
The premature celebration does not reflect a new emphasis on revelry, church officials assure. It is simply that New Year's Eve this year falls on a Sunday, the Sabbath, and the two cities, St. George and Provo, know that in a state with about 1.75 million Mormons, faith can trump Father Time when it comes to planning a party.
"It's cultural slash religious, but primarily it's economic-based," said Marc Mortensen, the coordinator for First Night St. George, the city's alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration. "We're just not going to get good enough attendance if we hold it on Sunday."