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Sunday, Dec. 23, 2012

So Long, 2012

The Shepherd’s 2013 New Year’s Eve Guide

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2012 won’t necessarily be remembered as a great one. It’s almost certain to go down as the year the nation endured another bitter election cycle, stretches of unusual and frequently destructive weather patterns and a seemingly endless string of deadly mass shootings. New Year’s Eve always means that much more when it follows a bad year, though, as it’s a holiday designed to help us put the past behind in anticipation of a brighter future. And if ever there was a reason to raise a glass, closing the book on a year as trying as 2012 is it.

As usual, Milwaukee offers a variety of ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve, for both big spenders and non-spenders alike. Here are some of the highlights.

Family Friendly


Skating @ Red Arrow Park, 10 a.m.-1 a.m.

Though budget cuts have killed the Downtown fireworks display that used to usher in the new year, each Dec. 31 hundreds of Milwaukeeans still take to the ice-skating rink at Red Arrow Park during its “Slice of Ice” event. There’s free ice skating in advance of the countdown to midnight, when the city literally rings in the new year from the bell tower at City Hall. Families looking for a memento can head to the rink’s warming house, which introduced a photo booth this year.

Harlem Globetrotters @ BMO Harris Bradley Center, 1 and 6 p.m.

For decades parents have tuckered out their kids before dropping them off at grandma’s for the night by taking them to see the Harlem Globetrotters, whose annual appearances now stand as one of the city’s oldest New Year’s Eve traditions. The team is in the middle of an impressive hot streak, as they haven’t lost a game since 2006—though in all fairness, many of those wins have come against the hapless Washington Generals.

New Year's Eve Family Celebration @ Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, 6-9 p.m.

A majestic, 44-foot-tall white spruce is the centerpiece of the Mitchell Park Domes’ holiday display, but little ones at this kid-centric holiday party will probably be more interested in the surrounding entertainment. In addition to music and an early balloon drop, there will be jugglers, balloon sculptures, a magician and a station where kids can make their own party hats.

New Year's Eve Pajama Party @ Betty Brinn Children's Museum, 5:30-8:30 p.m.

Kids are encouraged to wear their PJs and bring along their teddy bears to Betty Brinn’s pre-bedtime party. There will be pizza, party favors, dancing and story time, as well as a juice toast and ball drop for kids too young to stay up for the real one at midnight.

Live Music and Performances


Jim Gaffigan @ The Pabst Theater, 6 p.m.

He’s still a distant second right now, but Jim Gaffigan appears to be mounting a challenge against the Harlem Globetrotters as the touring act with the most consecutive Milwaukee New Year’s Eve appearances. For years the affable comedian has enjoyed an annual gig at the Pabst Theater, where he performs for a Midwestern crowd he clearly relates to. Expect plenty of jokes about junk food and Gaffigan’s pale complexion.

BoDeans @ Potawatomi Bingo Casino, 10 p.m.

Even an acrimonious split between founding songwriters Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann wasn’t enough to destroy the BoDeans. Neumann has kept the band alive by releasing a new album sans Llanas—this summer’s rollicking American Made—and carrying on as one of Milwaukee’s most dependable homegrown concert draws.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra @ Marcus Center, 8 p.m.

The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and its conductor laureate Andreas Delfs have created a celebratory program to commemorate the new year. They’ll be performing popular Viennese waltzes from Strauss and likeminded composers.

The Fatty Acids w/ WC Tank @ Art Bar, 9 p.m.

With their chipper, acid-warped indie-rock, Milwaukee’s Fatty Acids already treat every performance like it’s a New Year’s Eve spectacle, so it should be interesting to see what they’ll roll out for this performance on the actual holiday. The $10 cover will include a champagne toast, party favors and breakfast for those who make it late into the night.

The John Schneider Orchestra @ O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub, 9 p.m.

Joined in his cabaret-style orchestra by some well-known players—keyboardist Connie Grauer, percussionist Kim Zick, bass player Don Linke, saxophonist Rip Tenor and vocalist Claire Morkin—singer and tap-dancer John Schneider will perform jazz and swing classics for the eighth New Year’s Eve in a row at O’Donoghue’s Irish Pub (13225 W. Watertown Plank Road). The $15 cover includes an extensive buffet, noisemakers and a champagne toast.

Dead Man’s Carnival @ Miramar Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

Milwaukee’s Dead Man's Carnival variety troupe lines up hours of unusual entertainment for its annual New Year’s Eve spectacle at the Miramar Theatre. The troupe’s past events have included song and dance, burlesque, fire play, freaky clowns, juggling, stilt walking and all kinds of human endurance feats.   Parties, Dancing and Bottle-Popping

Stellar Spark 10 w/ Excision and Datsik @ The Rave, 8 p.m.

The Stellar Spark party celebrates 10 years of ushering in the new year at the Rave with another outsized lineup of DJs and producers. Canadian dubstep star Excision headlines the event, supported by fellow beat-dropping Canuck Datsik and more than a dozen other electronic artists, including Bro Safari, DJ Bl3nd and Hitmen. Expect some of the biggest light displays in the city.

The Get Down @ Turner Hall Ballroom, 9 p.m.

Spinning some of the rarest funk and soul 45s from the ’60s and ’70s, The Get Down regularly packs Mad Planet with its twice-monthly dance parties. The event is now also one of New Year’s Eve’s hottest tickets after two sold-out events at the Turner Hall Ballroom. This supersized version of the usual Get Down spin will include a complementary buffet from Casablanca and a massive midnight balloon drop,

Retro Dance Party @ Mad Planet, 9 p.m.

Every Friday, at Mad Planet’s signature weekly retro dance party, DJs resurrect the pop and dance hits of the ’80s and ’90s. Each New Year’s Eve delivers a longer, sweatier edition of that dance party, with free party favors, food and a champagne toast. At $12, it's a budget-friendly alternative to Downtown dance clubs.

NYE John Hughes Party @ The Alchemist Theatre and Lounge, 7 p.m.

The pairing of New Year’s Eve and John Hughes just makes sense: After all, just like the holiday, John Hughes’ movies were all about feeling good. For its New Year’s Eve gathering, Bay View’s Alchemist Theatre will screen some of the most iconic teen films of the ’80s and ’90s. Patrons are invited to make a night of it with a $20 all-you-care-to-drink special.

Underground New Year’s Eve Party @ The Library Club, 8 p.m.

Philadelphia’s DJ Daily and Chicago’s DJ Sye Young tag team Library Club’s New Year’s Eve event. A $20 cover will get you in and $50 is good for cover and an open bar until midnight. For bigger parties, a $300 gold package includes a VIP table, a bottle of vodka, a bottle of Veuve Clicqot champagne and an open bar until midnight for six.

Brew Year’s Eve 2013 @ Hot Water Nightclub/Wherehouse, 8 p.m.

The Katie Scullin Duo, Mighty Thor, Chris V, Vinnie Toma and Faux Noir round out a diverse bill of electronic music for the Wherehouse’s New Year’s Eve party. A $75 package includes all-you-can drink until 1 a.m. (and beer until 2 a.m.), a midnight champagne toast, three balloon drops and shuttle service to the Library Club’s after party.

New Year’s Eve Extravaganza @ 618 Live on Water, 9 p.m.

V100.7 DJ Gee-A and DJ O will take turns spinning contemporary rap at 618 Live on Water’s New Year’s Eve party, which will feature appearances from rappers Calykris, Ray Rizzy, Dayvon, Boo Fetti and Gid Money. There are a number of VIP packages available.

NYE 2013 @ Apartment 720, 9 p.m.

Graham Funke will be the celebrity DJ at Apartment 720’s New Year’s Eve dance party, but the real star power at the event will come from its host, Milwaukee Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings. Table reservations are available.