Chicago rings in 2012

January 1, 2012 4:54:46 AM PST
In the final hours of 2011, people all across Chicago prepared to ring in the new year. From big hotel parties to smaller restaurant gathering, people were excited to welcome 2012.

Navy Pier was once again the go-to destination for families on New Year's Eve. Winter Wonderfest was crowded Saturday as preparations were under way for Saturday night's '70's and '80's themed party at the Grand Ballroom. But it's the fireworks that everyone wants to see.

"It's really exciting, it's going to be fantastic," said Nick Shields of Navy Pier. "We have our midnight fireworks, but if that's too late for the little ones, we have them at 8.15 p.m. We're expecting 75,000 to 100,000 out here because the weather is so beautiful."

For those with money to burn, Trump Tower's Rebar is throwing a "Wizard of Oz" party, transforming itself into the Emerald City. For $600 you get a table for four, a bottle of Dom Perignon and sushi.

"We were going after a movie theme, which last year was a pink 'Affair to Remember,' Philip Posch of Trump International Hotel and Tower TC said. "So on Jan. 1, we thought why not do the Land of Oz: There is no place like Trump."

But if your ruby shoes feel more like dancing, Sushi Samba Rio may be the place to go. About 1,000 people are expected at Saturday night's party.

"It's called Reveillon," said Joseph Gomez of Sushi Samba Rio. "We've been doing it from Brazil. It's a traditional white party. We decorate the restaurant, everything in white, as you can tell by my outfit and all the balloons, all the rose petals and candles."

As always, the CTA is encouraging people to leave their cars at home and take advantage of the transit agency's penny rides available on all buses and trains starting at 10 p.m. and running through 4 a.m.