Chicagoans ready to ring in the New Year

ByTeam Coverage WLS logo
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Chicagoans ready to ring in the New Year
Chicago will enter the New Year in a matter of hours, and venues across the city are working with Chicago police to ensure celebrations are safe.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As Chicago prepared to enter the New Year, venues across the city worked with Chicago police to ensure celebrations were safe.

Nearly 100,000 people were expected to flood Navy Pier and the surrounding area for the longest light show to ring in 2019. Spokesperson Payal Patel said security was a top priority for the pier.

RELATED: CTA offering free rides on New Year's Eve; Uber, Lyft offering discounts

"We've got more police officers," she said. "We're working very closely with CPD, CFD, federal agencies to ensure that this is a very safe place."

Revelers planning to ring in the New Year at the pier were asked to arrive early to go through security checkpoints. Police told partygoers to leave large bags and backpacks at home.

Police are stepping up patrols throughout the city after a group of teens attacked passengers at a CTA Red Line station over the weekend.

Video shot by a passenger on a Red Line train shows a huge crowd of teenagers headed downtown early Saturday evening. According to 2nd Ward Alderman Brian Hopkins, they were all together as part of an organized group.

The group went into the H&M store and ran out with a large quantity of merchandise. Others also apparently caused problems at the McDonalds restaurant at the corner of State Street and Chicago Avenue.

"We have numerous reports of people being struck, pushed, shoved," Alderman Hopkins said. "The only serious injuries that we're aware of occurred on the Red Line station. We do have indications that the activity was organized activity. It was preplanned. There was communication on social media."

RELATED: 3 attacked by dozens of teens on Red Line platform on Near North Side

The alderman said the trouble in the neighborhood Saturday lasted about three hours. Police are reviewing video from CTA surveillance cameras hoping to identify suspects.

Meanwhile, police say they plan to have extra officers at a number of Red Line stops to keep large groups from gathering.

"We're adding officers down there so they'll see officers almost on every corner because we want people to be safe in any part of the city," said CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

There's also a new fireworks show along the Chicago River this year. It stretches from Lake Shore Drive to where the river splits into the north and south branches. The fireworks will be launched from barges and bridges so there will be road closures.

RELATED: New Year's Eve: Countdown Chicago 2019

The Riverwalk will also close at 10 p.m. The new fireworks show starts at midnight.

Binny's Beverage Depot stores across the Chicago area saw a surge of last-minute party preppers for those celebrating at home with friends.

"This is insane. I've never been in a liquor store this large so it's a lot of fun; it's a great experience," said Austin Fellows, who was shopping Monday afternoon. "We're kind of just running around, perusing the aisles, picking out what we want."

If you're staying in tonight, be sure to ring in the New Year with ABC 7. Countdown Chicago will be at the parties, all over the city and suburbs. The fun begins at 11:08 p.m.

Suburban celebrations offer New Year's Eve fun for all ages

Several suburban locations offered fun for all ages on New Year's Eve.

If you're celebrating in the suburbs, there's still plenty to do.

Brookfield Zoo's annual celebration is already well underway, and younger participants made noisemakers to ring in 2019.

Naperville's Dupage Children's Museum also offered family-friendly fun, allowing kids to enjoy hands-on exhibits, a magic show and other fun activities leading up to a countdown at noon.

For those in search of a higher-end, grown-up party, the Oakbrook Hilton Hotel is hosting a Rat Pack-themed celebration. The hotel has established itself as a hot New Year's Eve location.

ABC7's Janet Davies and Mark Giangreco will host Countdown Chicago from the Oakbrook Hilton.

"The party is timeless," said Hilton Chicago Oakbrook Hills Resort representative Steven Ellingsen. "We're also bringing in the Rat Pack from Las Vegas, so the live show from Las Vegas will be performing tonight."

If you do raise a glass of champagne too many, remember to be safe. In Palos Park, the police department is offering safe rides home - all you have to do is call.

"The Chief of Police works on New Year's Eve, so he comes out, and if anyone needs a ride home from a local establishment, a party, someone who's visiting in town and had too much to drink, we give them a ride home to surrounding communities," said Palos Park Police Department Commander John Sawyer.

After the last bottle of bubbly is poured, getting home safely should be revelers' next priority. The CTA, several ridesharing services and a local towing company are offering free rides and deals for those who should not be behind the wheel. Click here for more information.