Dec. 21 Inspires Doomsday Fears, Solstice Celebrations

As doomsday forecasters stock up for the end of the world, Griffith Observatory is preparing for the end of the week.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Doomsday forecasters are stocking up on supplies ahead of Friday, Dec. 21, while celestial experts are emphasizing that the date, which ends the Mayan calendar, does not predict the end of humanity. Lolita Lopez reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2012. (Published Thursday, Dec 20, 2012)

    Doomsday forecasters are stocking up on supplies ahead of Friday, Dec. 21, while celestial experts are emphasizing that the date, which ends the Mayan calendar, does not predict the end of humanity.

    Shopping for survival goods in Burbank, Don Summer isn’t exactly a doomsday forecaster, but he isn’t taking any chances.

    "I figured I would be ready for something," Summer said.

    "Every time I bring something home, my wife is like, ‘What are you talking about?’ So it's on my shoulders,” he said. “They don't think anything is going to happen. They say I'm crazy and I say, ‘I hope I am.’"

    Not only is Friday the annual Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere. It's also the end of the 5,000 year Mayan calendar.

    John Chavez, from The Supply Sergeant store, said he's seen an increase in business as Dec. 21 approaches. That’s the date purportedly forecasted to be the end of the world by the Mayan calendar, which abruptly ends.

    "It used to be people prepared themselves for three days," Chavez said. "Now they're setting themselves up for months."

    Packets of water and food are among the popular buys. Ammo cans and large drums for storing purified water are also selling fast.

    Gun stores in the area are reporting increased sales, in part, because of the end of the world link, but current events – like a mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, or Washington’s reignited gun control debate – may be contributing to the rush, as well.

    Chavez isn't on the Doomsday bandwagon, but he still thinks the kits are a good investment.

    "The government tells them every day, you know, get your earthquake kit prepared," he said. "Problem is nobody does it until the last minute."

    Across the world and in Los Angeles, Dec. 21 is also a day to celebrate. It's the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and the longest day in the Southern Hemisphere, making it an appropriate day to think about the heavens, according to Laura Danly, curator at the Griffith Observatory.

    "Unequivocally, scientifically and every other way, it is not the end of the world," she said.

    Griffith Observatory will host an event to commemorate the date, which Danly sai simply marks the beginning of a new calendar for the Mayan people. NASA adds there is no credible evidence of any blackouts or other unusual planetary phenomenon on Friday.

    The Observatory typically stays open until 10 p.m. on Fridays, but this year it will stay open until 12:01 a.m. Saturday, to prove a point.

    "We are getting past the midnight mark just to show and prove we are all still here on Saturday, Dec. 22," Danly said.

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