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Chicago to Get Its Own Riverfront New Year's Eve Celebration

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Chicago will host its own New Year's Eve celebration this year, right in the heart of downtown. The riverfront celebration will include multiple stages with live music performances and a countdown to midnight that will all be broadcast live to regional TV networks. Consider it our own version of the Times Square celebration that's become a tradition in New York. Chicago's event will be called "Chi-Town Rising", and in lieu of a slowly descending ball we'll have a slowly ascending star that will climb up the front of the Hyatt Regency Hotel on East Wacker drive.

The event is privately funded by Corona Extra as well as Hyatt and operated by Arena Partners, but the city will be dedicating its tourism and publicity resources to promoting the event. The event will be free for all to attend, and expects to fill up both sides of the riverfront between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive, including the famous Pioneer Court across from the Wrigley Building. NBC5 will broadcast the event locally and throughout the midwest, hopefully giving people in the Central time zone something to watch live instead of a tape-delayed Ryan Seacrest rebroadcast.

If you're wondering whether people will really brave the cold midwestern winter to watch some fireworks and live music, keep in mind that Chicago's temperatures aren't usually very different from New York's, and also that last winter Chicagoans were perfectly happy to stand in the blistering cold for hours to watch Nik Wallenda tightrope-walk across the river. Perhaps the sight of Wacker and Michigan avenue packed with spectators is what gave organizers the idea.

· Chicago launching major New Year's Eve celebration [Chicago Tribune]