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Chi-Town Rising is selling tickets for its formerly free festivities

Zach Long
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Zach Long
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Does a free, public New Year's Eve celebration with fireworks and performances by bands like Chicago and American Authors sound too good to be true? Apparently it is. Once billed as "free to the public," Chi-Town Rising has become another private celebration, albeit on a much grander scale than most. Earlier this month, organizers began selling $150 tickets for access to "Broadcast Boulevard," the location of the event's main Countdown Stage on Upper Wacker Drive between Michigan Avenue and Columbus Drive. Organizers have also been offering up $99 tickets that give attendees access to the "Corona Beach House," a private party that will take place across the Chicago River at 225 E North Water St.

The Tribune confirmed that the lineup of bands that was once slated to perform on a public stage in Pioneer Court has now been moved to the main Countdown Stage, which can only be accessed with the purchase of a ticket to "Broadcast Boulevard." According to a tweet from Chi-Town Rising organizers, a free viewing area for the festivities will be in Pioneer Court, but it seems you'll need binoculars if you actually want to see the acts playing on the other side of the river.

When Chi-Town Rising was initially announced, organizers estimated 100,000 people would show up to participate in the festivities. Though the number seemed lofty at the time, it seems especially generous now that organizers are charging for access to the main event. We sincerely doubt that 100,000 people will pay $150 to stand in the street and watch Chicago, and there probably won't be many residents interested in squinting at the proceedings in the free viewing area at Pioneer Court. In short, Chicago's very first public New Year's Eve party simply won't hold a candle to the free Times Square event that it's modeled after.

If you don't feel like making the trek downtown to gaze at the fireworks and gigantic rising star from afar, you can watch Chi-Town Rising for free on your television at home. Musical performances by American Authors and Chicago, the rising star and midnight fireworks will be aired on NBC 5 and Telemundo from 11pm–12:30am on New Year's Eve, during a live broadcast hosted by Mario Lopez. To be honest, home viewers will probably have a better view than the folks who shelled out $150 to stand around in the cold craning their necks.

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