Chicagoans Prepare to Celebrate New Year's Eve Without COVID Restrictions

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Chicago is preparing to celebrate its first New Year's Eve without any health restrictions since before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are still some lingering concerns.

At Navy Pier, preparations for a grand celebration were underway Friday afternoon, with crews raising a huge balloon arch and the band getting in some last minute practice.

"It feels like we are finally back to normal, everyone is able to connect, and celebrate these moments that make life so special," said Felicia Bolton, director of communications at Navy Pier.

At the Drake, some 3,000 people are expected for a celebration there. It'll be drastically different from last year - when people had to wear masks and COVID tests were required at the door due to a surge of the omicron variant.

"There’s no mandates, so we’re looking really good compared to last year, ticket sales are through the roof," said Ted Widen, organizer of New Years Eve at the Drake.

At Eve of the Eve, the first party to get underway this weekend, it was all about the dancing, drinks and donations.

"We certainly want to let everyone know we’re back," the organizer said.

A 25-year Chicago tradition returning after a pandemic hiatus, the event was a fundraiser for the non-profit HindSight. Dollars spent at the party go toward scholarships and mentoring Chicago high school students.

"We haven’t been able to do it for the last three years because of the pandemic, so we’re excited to be back," said Jameson Taylor, president of HighSight.

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