'We risked enough': Many folks staying home for New Year's Eve amid COVID-19 surge

  • Greg and Kate Shergold of Arlington Heights are staying home on New Year's Eve.

    Greg and Kate Shergold of Arlington Heights are staying home on New Year's Eve. Courtesy of Kate Shergold

  • A surgical technician whose staff has been hit by the COVID-19 virus, Jessica Banaszek of Warrenville is staying home on New Year's Eve.

    A surgical technician whose staff has been hit by the COVID-19 virus, Jessica Banaszek of Warrenville is staying home on New Year's Eve. Courtesy of Jessica Banaszek

  • Becky and Jim Obos of Arlington Heights are professional photographers and will work New Year's Eve, shooting pictures in Mundelein.

    Becky and Jim Obos of Arlington Heights are professional photographers and will work New Year's Eve, shooting pictures in Mundelein. Courtesy of Jim Obos

  • Hey Nonny in downtown Arlington Heights canceled shows and food service through Jan. 27 because of the surging COVID-19 cases.

      Hey Nonny in downtown Arlington Heights canceled shows and food service through Jan. 27 because of the surging COVID-19 cases. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 12/30/2021 6:32 AM

A surge of COVID-19 cases and the spread of the highly transmissible omicron variant are prompting many suburbanites to alter their New Year's Eve celebrations.

Instead of going to crowded parties or dining out, folks like Kate and Greg Shergold of Arlington Heights are staying home Friday night.

 

"We will likely make it a night of appetizers, work on one of our new puzzles and watch the new year come in on TV," Kate Shergold said. "We feel we risked enough right now with family get-togethers on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day."

Warrenville resident Jessica Banaszek and her family are staying home Friday night because of the COVID-19 surge. A hospital surgical technician, she said her staff is short-handed because of COVID-19 infections.

"Going out and being around a lot of people exponentially increases my risk for getting sick and having to call off," Banaszek said. "There aren't many people who are trained for my job, so I'm trying to not inflict more strain on my co-workers."

Of course, others are sticking with scheduled dinner reservations, movie showings, parties or other gatherings.

"(I'm) not letting it ruin our family plans," said Stacy Pacilio, also of Arlington Heights.

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Jim and Becky Obos haven't altered their New Year's Eve plans, either. They're professional photographers and they've got a gig, shooting the festivities at the Original Sundance Saloon in Mundelein. A band called Rok Brigade is set to play.

The couple has had the virus already and both are vaccinated against it, Jim Obos said.

"We wash hands frequently and stay as distant as possible while still doing our job," said Obos, of Arlington Heights.

The Sundance won't be the only suburban joint that's hopping on New Year's Eve. No open tables are left for the evening at the Bub City restaurant in Rosemont, its online reservation service indicated.

Conversely, the Pennyville Station restaurant in Park Ridge and Chandler's Chophouse in Schaumburg had plenty of reservations available.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Some entertainment venues have canceled events out of caution, including Hey Nonny in Arlington Heights. In fact, Hey Nonny will temporarily shut down through Jan. 27.

Performances by Lucky Boys Confusion and other bands at Durty Nellie's in Palatine were called off, but another act, Wedding Banned, was signed to fill in, the venue announced Tuesday.

The Des Plaines Park District scrubbed its planned New Year's Eve family party "for the safety of staff and participants," Executive Director Don Miletic said. Expected turnout already was low, with only about 33 people signed up instead of the usual 300 or so, Miletic said.

Concerned about the virus, staffers at Wheeling's Indian Trails Public Library scheduled a virtual event for kids this year instead of an in-person party. Registration filled up for the noontime event, which will feature a craft demonstration and a countdown, spokeswoman Jen Schmidt said.

Virtual fun isn't in the cards for Gurnee resident Nadine Vito, however. Vaccinated after contracting COVID-19, she isn't letting the pandemic change her celebratory plans.

"Two years into this, we must learn to live with it," Vito said. "We'll party with a small group ... like we've done pre-COVID."

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