Aspen New Year’s Eve celebrations abound |

Aspen New Year’s Eve celebrations abound

Aspen Times fileFireworks will light up the sky over Aspen Mountain on Wednesday evening.

ASPEN ” If your New Year’s Eve plans remain up in the air, there are still activities, opportunities and parties to be had in price ranges that are true reflections of Aspen: over the top and free.

Perhaps the largest gathering Wednesday evening is open to the public and courtesy of the city of Aspen. Fireworks over Aspen Mountain will be displayed at 8:30 p.m. and again at midnight.

“Although the beginnings of 2009 might be more trying for us than in recent memory, we’d like to still keep that special feeling that Aspen is renowned for and celebrate the upcoming new year,” a city press release said.

Festivities downtown also include a bonfire and DJ in Wagner Park beginning at 8 p.m.

The Aspen Police Department will be on full alert, with 11 officers walking around downtown patrolling the area. Twenty-five security officers have been hired, as well as two officers from the Basalt Police Department, according to Aspen police Sgt. Dan Davis.

Police will be looking for underage drinking and open containers.

“The kids aren’t going to get a break; there will be a zero tolerance for drinking 18 and under,” he said. “We just keep our fingers crossed that everyone enjoys the night and gets home safely.”

Bottles in Wagner Park will not be tolerated, as they have recently been used as weapons in area bars. Davis said police will wade through the crowds and make judgment calls on whether drinks will be confiscated.

“You may or may not get a chance to drink what you’ve got,” he said, adding a detox facility will be set up at the Aspen Youth Center.

Barricades will be set up so crowds don’t stand in Durant Avenue to watch fireworks. People are encouraged to watch on Hunter Street and Cooper Avenue.

The city also is hosting a family-oriented New Year’s Eve celebration at the Aspen Recreation Center. Activities include ice skating, swimming and rock climbing. Attendees can celebrate the new year in each time zone with a live countdown at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and midnight.

The Aspen Recreation Center also is offering childcare for ages 6 and up so parents can enjoy a night on the town. Each child will receive dinner, beverages, party hats, exclusive use of the pools, climbing tower, ice rink and the Aspen Youth Center.

The party will be held from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. The cost is $45 per child for Fun Pass holders (one-month pass or more), or $70 for non-pass holders. Parents can pick kids up before 1 a.m. A late fee of $5 per minute will be collected after 1 a.m.

Pre-registration is required. Health forms and payment must be completed before 5 p.m. Health forms can be downloaded at Log onto or call 544-4100 for more information.

On the party scene, nightclubs are offering all-inclusive tickets for parties, which include booze and entertainment.

The Sky Hotel’s 39 Degrees is hosting its fifth annual New Year’s Eve private party, which is being organized by a Los Angeles-based promoter. For $300, guests will be entertained by two DJs, and eat hors d’oeuvres and imbibe at an open bar. VIP tickets also are available, according to Steve Miller, general manager of 39 Degrees.

“We’re expecting 400 people, and it will be a young, hip crowd,” Miller said.

He also noted that 39 Degrees is one of only a handful of bars and clubs that is hosting parties.

“People aren’t doing a lot of New Year’s parties because of the economy,” he said.

Michael Goldberg, owner of the Belly Up, said he purposefully didn’t book a high-priced show this year. Last year, ZZ Top performed, and tickets commanded $550 for general admission and $3,000 for VIP treatment.

“We wanted to make a big splash last year and it was appropriate then, but any high ticket price is not appropriate for this New Year’s Eve,” Goldberg said. “It’s a recognition of the times.”

On Wednesday, tickets are $175 for three DJs ” Z-Trip and Mix Master Mike, the “Father of the Mash-Up Movement” and the resident DJ of the Beastie Boys, respectively. DJ Klaw will open the show. The price includes late-night breakfast and a champagne toast at midnight.

Goldberg added that the scheduled DJs fetch higher prices for New Year’s Eve, and the ticket price reflects that.

“Given that it’s New Year’s Eve, we wanted to stay under $200,” he said.

Other Aspen club parties are on par with the Belly Up’s prices.

The Fly Lounge is charging $125 per person, which includes a Perrier Jouet Grand champagne split for the midnight toast, and progressive house music with DJ Patrick. The VIP bottle service with a table for between four and six people is $600; a VIP table for eight to 10 people is $1,500. That price includes a code to the VIP champagne restroom.

The Regal Watering Hole is charging $135 for open bar, half-price shots, a champagne toast at midnight and music by DJ Brian Sullivan.

Club Chelsea is charging a $100 cover, which includes an open bar and a DJ.

On the lower price scale is the Eric’s Bar complex, where tickets are $50 cash and $60 for credit cards. The price includes two DJs in Eric’s and the Cigar Bar, as well as a complimentary champagne toast, party favors and coat check.

Su Casa will become a lounge, and pool is offered in the billiards room for $25 an hour.

The affair is Aspen black tie, which means dressy but not too much.

The big event in Snowmass appears to be at the Silvertree Hotel, where a gala will take place.

The $150 event includes a cash bar, a reception with a pianist and hors d’oeuvres, a dinner buffet, dancing, and a champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight.

The Treehouse is providing a kids’ party from 6:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The cost is $100 for one child, and $50 for each additional child from the same family, ages 4 to 12. Activities include juggling and magic, with performing arts and a talent show.

The office at the Cirque is charging a $10 cover and includes music from a DJ.

Restaurants are offering regular, pre-set and fixed-price menus, and range in prices and seating times. Call the Aspen Chamber Resort Association at 925-1940 for more details.

Law enforcement agencies across the state plan to crack down on drunk drivers who take to the road during the remainder of the holiday season.

The enhanced enforcement period begins at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continues through 3 a.m., Jan. 5, the Colorado State Patrol said.

Among some of the agencies that plan to up patrols in the next few days are the Eagle County Sheriff’s Office and the Summit County Sheriff’s Office. The state patrol also plans to increase its presence in many areas including Frisco, Montrose and Glenwood Springs.

For revelers headed west to the Grand Valley, the Grand Junction Police Department, Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and state patrol in Fruita will have DUI checkpoints on Jan. 3. Those locations have not been disclosed.

The idea is to encourage people to plan ahead, and use a designated driver. Last year, more than 470 people were arrested statewide for alleged driving under the influence offenses in the New Year’s Eve enforcement period, the state patrol reported.

A total of 32 people died in traffic crashes across the state in December 2007, with 11 involving alcohol.

By comparison, 35 people have been killed in traffic crashes in the state from Dec. 1 through Dec. 29, the Colorado Department of Transportation reported. Of those, four were alcohol related.

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