Break out the hip flasks: This month, the man who brought the NFL draft to the city, John Murray, mounts the first-ever Chi-Town Rising, a $4 million to $5 million New Year’s Eve countdown in which Times Square’s dropping ball is replaced by a mammoth Chicago star climbing the Hyatt Regency. The event kicks off at 6 p.m. in Pioneer Court and moves across the river at 11 to punctuate 2015 with “one of the largest fireworks shows in the city’s history,” says Murray. It will also be an utter infestation: 50,000 to 70,000 people are expected. Here are five places to enjoy the festivities without getting caught in the tourist throng.
1 Signature Lounge
875 N. Michigan Ave.
Arrive early to get a south-facing view from the John Hancock Center’s 96th-floor crow’s-nest. (The general admission lounge is first come first served, but if that’s not bulletproof enough, you can book a $225 table on the floor below for dinner.) The downside? From 1,000 feet up and a mile back, even a 1,544-square-foot star will look teensy.
Tip Bring binoculars.
2 Grand Street Garage
535 N. St. Clair St.
From all but the bottom floor, the parking garage at Grand and St. Clair offers an oblique view of the Hyatt. To nab a space, drive in on December 30, leave your car at the garage’s southeast or southwest corner (the Ronald McDonald House blocks the view from the center), and return the next night to tailgate at your own personal loge ($48 a day).
Tip Head around the corner to Emilio’s Tapas for food, booze, and bathrooms; it’s not like you’ll lose your spot.
401 N. Wabash Ave.
Your table may cost as much as some hotel rooms (about $100 a head, including hooch and food), but the mezzanine-level bar at the Trump is as close as you’ll get to the festivities with a drink in your hand and feeling in your toes.
Tip Bring an entourage and split the cost of a table between the group. Be sure to ask for a table by the window.
4 Texas de Brazil
201 E. Illinois St.
Book a table in the west dining room of this middling churrascaria, and enjoy the show with a plateful of oversalted meat ($47 for an all-you-can-eat meal).
Tip Call, like, now and ask for table 53; if that’s booked, try 70 through 81.
301 E. North Water St.
Only one of the event’s nine “official hotel partners” offers a front-row seat: the Sheraton, across the river from the Hyatt. Your $299 reservation gets you a southwest-facing view. If you’re willing to pony up $399 for a room, you can go to a viewing party on the 33rd floor.
Tip Pack a stethoscope—you won’t hear much through the glass.