CHICAGO (CBS) – The troubled economy has had an impact on recent New Year’s Eve celebrations.
But this time, as CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports, crews are preparing to big crowds that are willing to open up their wallets to ring in 2011.
At Tavern on Rush, 1031 N. Rush St., all three seatings were completely booked before 6 p.m.
“We’re slammed,” said Ron Kelley of Tavern on Rush. “We’ve got about 350 in the book.”
The balloons were up. The lobsters, live and moving, were just in from Maine.
On Rush Street itself, those in the hospitality industry say this New Year’s Eve will reflect an improving economy.
“They’re feeling happier. They’re smiling a little more,” Kelley said. “They’re lighter in their step, which I think is an encouraging sign for next year.”
Another sign people are spending money? Several more mega-parties are planned in Chicago this New Years Eve.
Eric Fettner and Caleb Roberts came into the town from Texas and Tennessee, respectively, for the enormous celebration at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr.
“You’re hanging out with a ton of people in a cool city with a good band, and you’re at a good place downtown, so it’s a big draw,” Roberts said.
The Hyatt will have two ballrooms in full swing, one featuring the band – Mike and Joe.
The Hyatt is expecting 3,000 people, but tickets are still available.
“As the host hotel, we love hosting the party, because it’s just as much fun for us as for all the people who are here to celebrate New Year’s Eve,” the Hyatt’s Paul Daly said.
And at Navy Pier, two free fireworks shows are scheduled, at 8:15 and midnight, which will attract a lot of people.
But inside at Winter Wonderfest , some families were squeezing in some early fun before avoiding the big crowds.
“Born and raised in Chicago; I’ve been there, done that,” said Eric Michalek. “I think it’s a lot safer for the family to be home and celebrate it at home.”
That family may be going home tonight but crowds are expected to be big, not only because of the better economy, but the warmer temperatures, too.