Chicago prepares to ring in 2018

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Balloons, champagne, fireworks and free CTA rides as Chicago prepares to ring in the New Year.

The final preparations are taking place at countless New Year's Eve parties around the area and that includes security officials in Chicago.

It is the warmup for tomorrow's main event. Chicago's annual Eve of the Eve party took place Saturday evening at the Merchandise Mart. The gathering of over 2,000 people served a dual purpose: to raise scholarship money and to offer partygoers the opportunity to dress up and raise a glass or two without all the craziness associated with New Year's Eve.

For those who do want to party till they drop Sunday, preparations are well under way at The Drake Hotel where over 3,000 tickets have been sold for Chicago Scene's annual bash. With 40 bars, five ballrooms and four hours of complimentary bar service guests won't have any trouble staying busy and hydrated.

"It's amazing. It's packed with people. People have the best time. We have Sye Young. He's one of the top DJ's. He's always playing at the top night clubs in Chicago. People just love it," said Ted Widen with Chicago Scene.

Those in search of a more low-key New Year's Eve could be found stocking up Saturday night at the Binny's in Lincoln Park where an entire room is dedicated to all things bubbly.

"It's going to be very simple. I'm staying at home. I have two boys. So we're going to celebrate just toasting the New Year together as a family," said Ari Gray.

Whatever people's plans, the city is aiming to keep everyone's celebration safe. A heavy police presence will be in place, especially downtown and at Navy Pier.

"We have enough resources on the ground, on site. We have our cameras, we have our communications system. We're confident that we have a good plan in place looking forward to tomorrow," said Rich Guidice with the Office of Emergency Management and Communications.

Of course what better way to bring in the New Year than with the annual fireworks extravaganza at Navy Pier launching at the stroke of midnight. As always the best way to get here is using the CTA which will be offering free rides from 10 p.m. Sunday night to 4 a.m. on New Year's Day.
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