CHICAGO (CBS) — The night before Thanksgiving is considered to be the biggest night out of the year, to the point where bar owners call it “Black Wednesday.”

As WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports, revelers will be flocking to Chicago area bars and clubs tonight to raise a glass with friends and relatives. Club and restaurant owners say the night before Thanksgiving rivals New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day as a huge party night.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Lisa Fielding reports

“Black Wednesday is as big or bigger than any other night of the year,” said Ryan See, Co-Owner, Bridge House Tavern on the River, 321 N. Clark St.

See says Bridge House holds nearly 200 people and believes the so-called Black Wednesday will attract close to capacity crowds.

“We’re expecting twice the crowd of a normal Wednesday night.”
See says he is bringing in extra staff in the kitchen and at the bar to accommodate the crowds.

Around the country, the day before Thanksgiving is traditionally a big bar night. The annual migration of college students returning home for the holiday weekend and others — many whom don’t have to work the next morning — contribute to the night’s popularity.

A variety of night life options await people tonight, including happy hour, drink specials and live music.

There is a hip-hop show at Reggie’s Rock Club, at 2109 S. State St. in the South Loop; deals such as 50 percent off “Stranded Student” discounts at Jack’s Bar and Grill, at 2856 N. Southport Ave. in Lakeview, and $5 Pabst Blue Ribbon and a whiskey shot at Porkchop, at 941 W. Randolph St. in the West Loop.

The Pioneer Tavern Group is hosting a Black Wednesday Trolley Crawl between bars The Pony, 1638 W. Belmont Ave.; Lottie’s Pub, 1925 W. Cortland St.; and Frontier, 1072 N. Milwaukee Ave.

Bars and restaurants are looking to do whatever they can to accommodate Black Wednesday partiers on what has been an unofficial drinking holiday in the city for years.

Wednesday night will also be a big night for local law enforcement.

Extra patrols are expected to be out enforcing traffic violations — specifically drunk drivers.

Watch & Listen LIVE