As a child at home in the 1960’s, it was about watching the ball drop in New York at 11 Central on TV and then turning on whatever Chicago hosted an hour later for a second New Year’s eve celebration. Sometimes I didn’t make it past 11 pm. On occasion, we would go to a friends house to spend the night. I would play with the other kids upstairs and of course, the parents would do the unspeakable…have fun. .drink…dance to the sounds of Mitch Miller in their finished basement.
Sometimes other shows were on that hosted Guy Lombardo’s Band playing Auld Lang Syne; his final New Year’s Eve appearance took place in New York, 1976. Not many may remember him. And if Guy Lombardo traveled to Chicago, many celebrated bringing in the New Year at the Aragon Ballroom to listen to his orchestra, which was a powerhouse attraction in the 1940s. Aragon is still in existence today at West Lawrence Ave in Uptown Chicago as I talked about in another article. The Aragon was known as one of the most elegant ballrooms in the world and has a capacity of 5,000 still offering live entertainment.
If my parents went out for a New Years Eve extravaganza…before my time, it was also to the beautiful Edgewater Beach Hotel, a resort hotel complex on Lake Michigan that featured such stars as Judy Garland, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey. Other new year celebrations included live music at the Willowbrook Ballroom, that had a history of over 80 years entertainment before it was destroyed by fire just a couple of years. A variety of big bands would take the stage for dancing events that occurred on a 6,000 square foot dance floor.
Over the decades, restaurants, ballrooms, a special trip in the 1970’s to New York, a Carribean cruise during the 1980’s where Caribbean Queen was a popular song at the time and other historic trips and traditions have come and gone. But for those who celebrate at home in front of their screens, you can still watch the ball drop in New York and catch other Chicago New Year’s festivities from all media, too numerous to mention. Certainly not on only four to eight channels back in the day.
Today, popular celebrations that have created timeless tradition in Chicago is a trip to Navy Pier where you can enjoy entertainment and family attractions. Navy Pier offered exquisite cruises along the lakefront with an amazing fireworks display on New Years Eve. Many may have reserved a table to celebrate New Years at a fine restaurant in Chicago that offers the best in fine dining such as The Signature Room at the 95th. In the Western suburbs, you may want to try the most popular Meson Sabika in Naperville where you can enjoy brunch, lunch or dinner at this Spanish tapas restaurant.
Maybe your New Years Eve is just centered around pizza delivery, lots of wine and banging pots and pans in your yard with the little ones. Regardless of how you spend the evening,hopefully, the New Year will bring to you nothing less than an abundance of health, happiness and peace.
Happy New Year!