Valley preps for New Year’s Eve
Since we all survived the Mayan apocalypse last week, it’s time to celebrate and welcome the dawn of 2013. Whether your style is a casual bar crawl or cocktails and white tails, there’s a party for you in Sonoma Valley.
If you’re looking for lavish, head to the Lodge at Sonoma for the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance’s annual gala, which this year boasts the theme “Glitz and Gatsby.”
“Everything is going to be very white and very crisp for our Gatsby night,” said Kathy Witkowicki, executive director of the mentoring alliance. “Everything is just silver, gold and white.”
As guests enter, they’ll be greeted by flapper girls lounging in a vintage Rolls Royce. Upon entering, expect to be welcomed with a Mentini – a specialty cocktail whipped up by the Lodge, while Sonoma Valley High School grad and Grammy Camp alum Danny Wirick tickles the ivory.
“He’s going to be in his white tails and he’s going to be playing some Gatsby-era tunes,” Witkowicki said.
Following cocktails, Lodge banquet chef Peter Smith has created an entirely Gatsby-inspired menu. Each course will coordinate with a different chapter in the F. Scott Fitzgerald book.
“He went back and read the book to create the menu,” Witkowicki said.
Following dinner, the Gatsby theme will fade a bit as the Lodge becomes more of a modern night club. The Dave Martin House Party will play popular tunes to get the guests off their feet.
“We only want to be doing Gatsby for a short time, because its New Year’s Eve and we want to dance,” Witkowicki said.
The evening will not include a live auction; instead guests can bid on one of 10 exclusive silent auction lots ranging from a ski and spa trip to Montage Deer Valley or a week in Cabo San Lucas, to cheese parties or first row Oakland A’s tickets. The night will be capped with a champagne toast at midnight. Witkowicki said the event is oversold, but those interested should still call.
“They can always get on a waiting list. Sometimes somebody has to cancel and a seat opens up,” she said.
Tickets are $250 and will support operations at the Mentoring Alliance, which pairs hundreds of at-risk Valley youth with caring adult mentors. Call 938-1990 for tickets.
Looking for something a little more low-key? Many of the Valley’s bars, pubs and watering holes will be hosting their own celebrations. Murphy’s Irish Pub is first out of the gate with its annual Irish New Year’s, celebrated at 3 p.m. with Celtic music from Shades of Green. To get a full rundown of the live music offerings, check out James Marshall Berry’s column, sonomanews.com/News-2012/End-of-the-year-music-and-New-Years-Eve-happenings/.
If you’re looking to skip the hub-bub and have a nice meal, check Kathleen Hill’s column, sonomanews.com/News-2012/Hangover-cure/ for restaurant specials and menus.
No matter what you decide to do, local law enforcement want to make sure everyone gets home safe for the holiday. After more than 1,200 DUI arrests across the state last New Year’s Eve, the California Highway Patrol is increasing its enforcement efforts with more officers on duty seeking out inebriated drivers. Locally, Sonoma police officers will conduct saturation patrols in heavily trafficked areas, including around the Plaza. And Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett reminds drivers that, besides accident risk, the financial cost of a DUI “is substantial.”
For more on the New Year’s traffic enforcement picture see below.
Both Sonoma Taxi and Vern’s Taxi will have all vehicles in their respective fleets operating on New Year’s Eve in anticipation of the influx of revelers.
“We’re going to have 11 vehicles out that night,” said Vern English of Vern’s Taxi. “It’s just like nonstop for 12 hours with 11 drivers on New Year’s.”
Vern’s Taxi can be reached at 938-8885 while Sonoma Taxi is at 889-1266.
Police out in force to curb DUI
New Year’s is a time of celebration, and unfortunately, a time of increased accidents and deaths on the roadways due to people driving under the influence.
In an effort to encourage the use of designated drivers and otherwise keep the roads clear of drunk drivers, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is preparing to ring in the New Year with an increased enforcement presence throughout the state. The New Year’s maximum enforcement period, as CHP calls it, begins Friday, Dec. 28 at 6 p.m. and continues through Tuesday, Jan. 1 at 11:59 p.m.
Locally, Sonoma and the Valley are a part of the countywide “Avoid the 13” anti-DUI taskforce. Jurisdictions across the county coordinate checkpoints and patrols. According to Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett, none of the DUI checkpoints will be in the Valley, but throughout the weekend and over New Year’s Eve and day, the department will conduct “saturation patrols,” where extra squad cars monitor heavily trafficked areas, such as the Highway 12 corridor and the Plaza, for impaired drivers.
Similar saturation patrols have been conducted during the “winter mobilization period” starting during Thanksgiving for a few years now, and Sackett reports that both DUI-related arrests and accidents have been trending down in the Valley.
“Not only is (driving under the influence) extremely dangerous physically,” said Sackett, “people sometimes forget that the downside of getting arrested is substantial.”
Over last New Year’s holiday, 25 people were killed in collisions throughout the state; the majority of those who died within CHP jurisdiction were not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash. Additionally, CHP officers made more than 1,200 arrests for driving under the influence (DUI). The increased enforcement effort this New Year’s is similar to that of the recent Christmas holiday. Throughout that 102-hour reporting period in California, 39 people were killed in collisions and CHP officers arrested 1,170 drivers for DUI.
“Our ultimate goal is to help prevent avoidable tragedy by encouraging the public to make responsible choices, such as designating a sober driver, buckling up and traveling at a speed safe for conditions,” said CHP Commissioner Joe Farrow.