Sacramento is bracing for what could be its coldest New Year’s Eve in over two decades – 24 years to be exact. By the time the countdown finishes at midnight, temperatures will have dropped to 32 degrees, according to forecasts.
Despite the chilly conditions, there are plenty of things to do before 2015 begins, from toasting the new year over a fine meal to watching the fireworks show in Old Sacramento.
Perhaps the biggest event in town is the annual New Year’s Eve Sky Spectacular in Old Sacramento. Two pyrotechnics displays will fill the skies on the waterfront at 9 p.m. and midnight. Hours before, Old Sacramento will fill with live music, food vendors and children’s entertainment starting at 6 p.m. The 9 p.m. fireworks show will last 15 minutes and the midnight show about 7 minutes.
Crocker Art Museum will ring in the new year Wednesday with its annual “Noon Year’s Eve” extravaganza for families. The museum describes the event as a “fiesta of global cultural experiences,” including live music, dance performances and art activities. Doors open at 10 a.m. and admission is free.
For a night of roller skates and loud tunes, kids can head over to the Foothill Skate Inn on Auburn Boulevard. Twenty-five dollars gets you a hot dog, nachos, drink and admission to the “beautiful hardwood floors.” The party starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday night and ends 6 a.m.
It’s late in the game to make New Year’s Eve dinner plans, but here are two restaurants with New Year’s specials that may have space available.
▪ Plan B and Cafe Plan B, sister restaurants with French accents, Plan B in Arden Town Center, 555 La Sierra Drive, Sacramento, (916) 483-3000, www.planbrestaurant.com; and Cafe Plan B, 1226 20th St., Sacramento; (916) 447-3300, www.cafeplanb.com.
At both, order off the full menu or choose specials, including crab fritters and lobster risotto. The La Sierra Drive location will also have fish with caviar cream, and filet mignon with mushrooms. Dinner will be 5 to 10 p.m. at both.
Two dinner seatings (5:30 and 8 p.m.) will pair the winery’s reds and whites with duck terrine, lobster bisque, braised lamb shank and tiramisu. $85 for wine club members, $95 for nonmembers.
For those who don’t want to get behind the wheel, a slew of transportation options are available. Regional Transit will operate extended light-rail service past midnight from downtown Sacramento on the Blue and Gold Lines. A complete schedule is available at www.sacrt.com/nyeve2014.stm.
Sacramentans can also hail a private car from Uber or Lyft, both of which expect New Year’s Eve to be their biggest night of the year. But beware of so-called “surge pricing” that is usually several times the regular rate during times of peak demand. Uber expects the highest demand will occur between 12:30 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. on New Year’s Day. An Uber spokeswoman said the dynamic pricing algorithm is based on supply and demand, so there is no telling how much prices will rise.
Competitor Lyft will hike prices by up to four times normal rates because it motivates its drivers to operate on New Year’s Eve, said Lyft spokeswoman Katie Dally.
Flywheel, a new mobile app modeled on Uber and Lyft, will make a splash on New Year’s Day by offering $10 flat-rate rides for all of its markets – Sacramento, San Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles – between 8 p.m. Dec. 31 and 3 a.m. Jan. 1.
“We never have surge pricing,” said Flywheel Chief Financial Officer Oneal Bhambani, noting that the app relies on licensed taxi fleets that are constantly on the road.
Baby sitters are likewise in high demand on the year’s biggest date night.
Care.com, which helps people find care providers, says most parents expect to hire a baby sitter for at least six hours, and sitters receive 1.5 to 2 times their normal rate on New Year’s Eve, according to the website.
Care.com recommends hiring a New Year’s Eve baby sitter weeks before the big night, but 55 percent of parents try to book in the final week beforehand. So what to do if you still don’t have somebody lined up? The site recommends one final check of your go-to list of sitters in case they had a cancellation, making one last run at an online sitter service or asking friends if they could do a baby-sitter share.
Failing that, enjoy the night at home celebrating with your children, just like 76 percent of parents will do, according to the site.
Heading outdoors? Better bundle up with heavy coats and scarves. Sacramento is expected to host its coldest New Year’s Eve since 1991. At 6 p.m., temperatures will hover around 43 degrees before slumping to 32 degrees at midnight, according to the National Weather Service. At 6 a.m. New Year’s Day, temperatures are expected to dip to a low of 28 degrees. The weather service has issued a freeze watch for the Sacramento Valley starting Wednesday evening through Friday morning.
Moderate winds are likely to exacerbate conditions. NWS forecaster Craig Shoemaker warned that 10-20 mph gusts on Wednesday night will make revelers feel even colder than the thermometer reading.
“The wind actually acts to remove the heat from your body and clothing,” he said.