New Year's Eve preps underway in Chicago

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The New Year is almost here and Chicago and other cities are getting ready for the celebrations.

Thousands will come to Navy Pier and hundreds of thousands to downtown Chicago bars and restaurants to ring in 2017. Friday night, Wacker Drive was slowly transforming into a New Year's Party spot.

Chicago police are quietly preparing to keep the city safe.

"I think the police will definitely have our backs and do whatever they've got to do to figure it out," said Payton Minogue, from Crystal Lake.

There is no known threat to Chicago but after attacks like the one at a Berlin Christmas market, police are increasing precautions.

"I definitely feel safe in the city. I think it's going to be a great time. Hopefully there's no commotion. People get rowdy. I know it's New Year's, but I think it's going to be a great time," said Matt O'Neal, from Chicago.

Concrete barriers are already in place downtown and large city trucks will block areas where people are cleberating outside. It's similar to what the city did for the Festival of Lights and Thanksgiving parade events.

The main draw of Chicago, and Navy Pier, are the midnight fireworks.

"You get a prime view of that fireworks show. You can go right out to the south dock and catch it there or from any of the restaurants and parties," said Patel.

The show will last 15 minutes at the stroke of midnight to ring in 2017.

The CTA will offer free bus and train rides from 10 p.m. Saturday until 4 a.m. Sunday to help make sure everyone celebrating can get home safely.

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The hours leading up to New Year?s are packed with preparation, but safety advocates want to make people who are having a good, boozy time don't get behidn the wheel.

The hours leading up to New Year's are packed with preparation.

"We're picking up party supplies for our party tomorrow night," said Kristen Howard, at a party store.

People scramble for decorations and reach for endless bottles of champagne.

"At midnight we have a big champagne toast and everyone claps and dances," said Shannon Monson, restaurant owner.

But it's what happens in the moments and hours after those bottles pop and glasses clink, during the trip home that can be life changing.

"You get behind the wheel, you don't think it's going to happen to you, you don't think about the ramifications," said John Gordon, of the Michael Gordon Memorial Foundation.

John's brother, Officer Michael Gordon, died in his police uniform when he was broadsided by a drunk driver.

"I had to explain to a 5-year-old his father wouldn't be coming home," John said.

People celebrating the south suburbs Saturday near Orland Park can call Via Limo; the Michael Gordon Memorial Foundation is sponsoring that ride home.

"A limo will come pick you up and take you home. They won't take you to another bar, but they will take you home free of charge," John said.

Click here for a list of applicable towns and for the phone number for Via Limo from the city of Orland Park.

Ride sharing services are another good option.

"Uber knows a large quantity of people are leaving from the restaurant, so they know to have a lot in the area," Monson said.

A safe ride home could guarantee you see 2017.
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