Chicago prepares to ring in New Year

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The countdown to 2017 is officially underway as celebrations have already begun around the world.

Here in Chicago, celebrations are planned across the city, but many people are heading to Navy Pier for the big party and fireworks. The show will last 15 minutes at the stroke of midnight to ring in 2017.

It won't cost anything for people getting to and from Navy Pier if they are taking the CTA, which will be free beginning at 10 p.m. Saturday until 4 a.m. Sunday.

The city wants it to be a safe night security wise too. Concrete barriers are already in place and large trucks will block areas where people are celebrating outside.

It's similar to what the city did for the Lights Festival and Thanksgiving Parade events. There is no immediate threat to the city of Chicago or any cities nationwide.

People who are getting ready to celebrate said they are confident that Chicago police have things handled behind the scenes.

"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.

Party shops like Doolin's are gearing up for the big night Saturday.

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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