'Black Wednesday' kicks off Thanksgiving weekend, deadliest holiday weekend, experts say

SCHAUMBURG, Ill. (WLS) -- Abel Rangel always looks forward to catching up with friends at a bar on the day before Thanksgiving.

"Most people have Thursday off so it's a good time to hang out with friends and everything," Rangel said. "Family is generally who we are hanging out with tomorrow."

What's become a pre-Thanksgiving tradition for many is known as "Black Wednesday" or "Blackout Wednesday."

Mark Hoffmann owns dozens of restaurants, bars and nightclubs in the city and suburbs, including Finn McCool's in Schaumburg. He said "Black Wednesday" is always one of the biggest days of the year.

"People are coming back into town to celebrate their Thanksgiving with their families," he said.

Things can get busy in area emergency rooms, too. Dr. Scott Dresden, at Northwestern Medicine, advises those who are going to drink to do so responsibly and to look out for friends.

"It is a little bit easier for you to notice in your friends that maybe they had too much to drink than for you to notice it yourself because as you have been drinking too much, your judgment is impaired and you may not recognize the signs that you are a little more drunk than you thought," he said.

Police will be out in full force starting Wednesday and lasting through the holiday weekend, looking for drunk drivers.

Drunk driving crashes killed more than 800 people during Thanksgiving weekends from 2012-2016, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, making it the deadliest holiday on the roads.

Hoffmann said staff members at his establishments watch out for customers. He's partnered with Uber and some hotels offering discounted rates.

"We make sure everybody gets home safe at all of our locations, even if I have to come out of pocket with it," he said. "The whole idea is to keep our customers safe."
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