SF gears up for New Year's Eve

December 31, 2008 4:47:54 PM PST
The countdown is on and preparations for Bay Area celebrations are in full swing. From police to businesses - everyone is gearing up to ensure a safe, profitable and perhaps toned down night of partying.

The gloomy weather in San Francisco on the last day of the year - sums up how a lot of people feel about this year.

"We way toned it back this year. We are just going to stay home with family. We are going to buy bread now for our dinner," said Jeanine Neal, Richmond.

Hotels and restaurants are bracing for a slow night. Party planner, Alison Hotchkiss, said her colleagues, clients and vendors are all talking about the lack of parties this year.

"Actually, traditionally in the last couple of years we have had weddings on New Year's and just in December in itself - but this year it has been a fairly slow time," said Hotchkiss.

You know its going to be a different kind of New Year's when even the party planner is staying home.

"We sent out an email and said - 'hey we are feeling it too, bring a bottle of wine or something to enjoy,'" said Hotchkiss.

The big winner of this somber mood could be the liquor stores. The manager of The BevMo store on Van Ness said people began buying champagne at 8:00 am this morning. He even got a call at 6:15 a.m. from somebody wondering when they were opening.

"If people are staying home they are going to want to buy more for themselves - not go out and spend on that overpriced bottle of champagne in a restaurant or a nightclub," said Paul Balenzuela, store manager.

There is always the party at the Embarcadero - it's free and provides dazzling entertainment. But a lot of people don't feel like giving 2008 much a send off.

"2008 was not great - so I'm looking forward to 2009, the Year of the Ox - that is my year coming up so I am happy to kiss it goodbye," said Michele Starling, Pinole.

If you do plan to come down to the Embarcadero the shows starts at midnight and there is a zero tolerance policy for drinking in public, drunkeness, fighting and any other illegal behavior. "And we're doing that because we encourage families to come out and it's not the right type of environment for people to get drunk and be drinking in public, so that's the message we're trying to get out," San Francisco police spokesperson Neville Gittens said. Click here for a list of Bay Area New Year's Eve Events