Ringing in the New in Baristaville

New Year’s Eve is just a few days away, but it’s not too late to make plans!  There’s nothing wrong with staying in and watching the ball come down on TV (especially with the little supermarket hot dogs), but if you’re in the mood for something more festive we have  some suggestions.  In addition to the fancy or unfancy meal and First Night events, you could gamble, laugh, listen or stretch (physically or spiritually).

Here are a few ideas:

1.  First Night.  The non-alcoholic way of catching a number of events with the whole family began in Boston in 1976, and has become traditional in many neighborhoods– including ours. 

Here are some nearby (for complete list, check here).

  • First Night, Montclair.  Sponsored by the Township of Montclair – Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs,  events begin at 5 (full schedule is here).  The “Music and Laughs” category includes the Afrocuba Band at Hillside Cafeteria (performing sets at 7:00, 8:00 and 9:00), a hit with salsa dancers in New Jersey and New York.  “Family Fun” includes Magician Joe Fischer at Unitarian Congregation Hall (performing at 6:00 & 8:00) and Square Dancing (also at Hillside School Cafeteria, at 5:00 and 6:00).  Check online for directions and specific venues.  Tickets for children from 3 – 17 are just $5; adults are $15 in advance, $20 on the night, and can be purchased here.  Festivities will be over by 10 or so, so you can still pop home for the champagne toast.  Information hotline:  973-509-4958.
  • First Night Maplewood/South Orange.  This night is having its 20 anniversary this year, and runs from 4:30 – 10 (you can pop home for the countdown from this one, too).  All events but one are at the Maplewood Middle School (schedule here).  That one?  Fireworks, at 7:15, following the second circus.  In addition to performers such as folk singer Livingston Taylor, there are activities scheduled for children (and parents) that include face painting, karate and origami.  Wristbands get you in to all events and can be purchased on paypal and many venues around town; they are $10 in advance ($11 online) or $15 at the door. The Maplewood Middle School is on 7 Burnett Street.  Preferred seating for the concert can be purchased for $22.  As with all first night events, this is a non-alcoholic party.  For information, call 973-76FIRST.
  • First Night Morristown is a little further out, but they have a roster that might make it worth the drive (and the website lists hotels and open restaurants).  There will be over 80 acts, including Gospel Choir Gospelways, folksinger Mark Levy (who also sings in Yiddish), the Peter Smith School of Irish Dance, World Warr II Words and Music and the New Philharmonic of New Jersey.   And two fireworks! All 23 venues are within walking distance of the Morristown Green, including The Community Theatre, Morristown High School, county administration buildings and  places of worship nearby. The event goes from 7 – midnight.  $25, or $90 for four, online, or call 973-539-8008.

2.  Gala Meals:  Some of the elegant restaurants that offered Thanksgiving dinners also have Year’s Eve events :

  • The Manor in West Orange offers buffet and A La Carte meals on New Year’s Eve, from 5:00 – 10:00.  A La Carte dining is $74.95 per person plus tax and gratuity; ; the Buffet is a Lobster Buffet Dinner and is $62.95.  Children are $29.95 for both.  The Manor also has two holiday parties:  the Gala in the Imperial Room ($139 per person plus tax/gratuity, includes buffet, open bar, dancing, hats and noisemakers) and the After-Dinner Party in Le Dome ($75 per person plus tax/gratuity; includes open bar, music, champagne toasts, noisemakers and dessert buffet).   The Gala runs from 8:00 – 1:00; the After-Dinner Party from 9:00- 2:00. The Manor is at 11 Prospect Avenue, West Orange.   Reservations are 973-731-2360.

    The Lobby of the Manor
  • Highlawn Pavilion (which has the same chef as The Manor, Mitchell Altholz) in West Orange has a special four course New Year’s Eve menu with choices including seafood chowder with lobster, shrimp and crab and venison strip loin. $72.00 per person plus tax/gratuity.  Highlawn Pavilion is located at Eagle Rock Reservation, West Orange, NJ.Reservations are 973-731-3462 x283.
  • McLoone’s Boathouse in West Orange has two New Year’s Eve seatings, and a midnight champagne toast sponsored by Moet and Chandon.  The New Year’s Eve menu includes a raw bar, and New Zealand rack of lamb.  Prices are A La Carte. McLoone’s is located at 9 Cherry Lane (corner of Northfield Avenue), West Orange, NJ. Reservations are 862-252-7108.

3.  Non-Gala Meals:  Some of your favorite restaurants are open for business, and while they may not offer a special event, they are bound to be fun:

  • The bar at Egan's

    Egan & Sons.  They will be open from noon to 2 A.M., with their usual menu, and daily specials.  The upscale Irish restaurant has received rave reviews and is a popular haunt; sure to be lively.  118 Walnut St.  973-744-1413.

  • Pal’s Cabin.  Regular menu, with some dinner specials.   As usual for a Saturday there will be a pianist in the Liberace room.  A New Jersey classic,  always upbeat.  265 Prospect Avenue, West Orange, NJ. Reservations are 973-731-4000
  •  Senorita’s.  The Bloomfield Mexican restaurant will have their regular menu.  285 Glenwood Ave., Bloomfield.  973-743-0099.
  • Martini’s.  Many a match.com date meet there, but the popular Millburn restaurant has a good menu too (it’s where Paper Mill Playhouse holds  opening night parties).  Regular dinner menu, but the bar will be open until 1:00 instead of until midnight, and there will be a pianist.  40 Main St., Millburn.  973-376-4444.

4.  Comedy.   The Comedy Cove at Scotty’s in Springfield (that stretch of Springfield in between Millburn and Short Hills) has a 9:30 p.m. show featuring Bo DiBuono (MTV, Spike TV) and Doug Karpf (Armed Forces, AC) for $30 with a two-drink minimum.  There is a champagne toast at midnight,.   Scotty’s is also offering a New Year’s Eve dinner menu, with reservations beginning at 7:30.  At 11:30 New Years Festivities include noisemakers, hats, music, champagne toast and a broadcast of NY Times Square ball dropping. 595 Morris Ave., Springfield.  973-376-3840.

5.  Theatre.  You can still catch A Christmas Carol at the Shakespeare Theatre in Madison. As I wrote in my Broadway and beyond theatre round-up  for this in-between week, English playwright Neil Bartlett’s adaptation includes a cast of nine actors playing more than 50 roles, including some of literature’s most beloved characters.  God bless us, everyone.   Check the round-up for theatre running in New York on New Yearr’s Eve, including the very sparkly and silly Pirates of Penzance at Symphony Space.

6.  Gambling.   Casino night at the Women’s Club of Upper Montclair.  The doors open at 9, and there will be food, alcohol and of course casino games.  $140 per couple.  200 Cooper Avenue, Montclair.  Contact Chef Roscoe for more info at 973-489-3671.

7. Music.  We know there are bands closer to home than South Side Johnny and the Asbury Jukes at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank on New Year’s Eve, but we also know some of you will want to drive down there anyway.  In Baristvaille, you could try Studio 12 Montclair‘s New Year’s Eve Gala, with Elle Now downstairs, and Jazzy Jan Loe upstairs.    Tapastry restaurant downstairs offers Spanish omelets, mushroom croquettes, Pan Catalan (unsweetened cornbread grilled with tomato puree), grilled dates with bacon and. tapas (of course). “Montclair’s Musical Hideaway Oasis” is on 12 Church Street, 2nd floor.

8. Holistic New Year’s.  Here are a few events to spruce up your aura for the coming year:

  • Montclair Metaphysical & Healing Center (MMHC) is holding an onsite psychic fare on Saturday from 10-1.  It is an openhouse, and a number of psychics and mediums (some fluent in Spanish) will be on hand and able to give 12-month forecasts just in time for 2012.  Cash only, each reading is $25.  Then At 1:30, Montclair Metaphysical is holding a Shamanic Journey – 2012 Power Animal and Huaca Retrival. Healer Lee Van Zyl and Medium Lee An LaRocca, cofounders of MMHC, will take you on a “drumming shamanic journey to retrieve your power animal for 2012.  You will also be retrieving a power symbol (huaca) for the upcoming year.” They encourage you to bring along your own drums and rattles.   You must pre-register online using their paypal button by 12/29.  $20.  516 Bloomfield Ave
    (above CVS).  973-866-0192
  • Yogic New Year's Eve at the Aquarian Center

    Aquarian Yoga Center, for their 1st Aquarian New Year’s Celebration (read about their opening here!), offers an evening of Kundalini Yoga, meditation, healing gong, dancing, chanting and community– along with potluck vegetarian food and drink (no alcohol).  Evening highlights include Sacred Chant Concert with Sat Nam Fest artist Harnam Singh & Band and Ramdesh Kaur from Spirit Voyage; Kundalini Yoga for Prosperity and Healing Gong with center director Akalsukh Singh, Kundalini Mantra Dance, Celestial Communication.  Doors open at 6 p.m.; the fascinating schedule on the website lists activities all night long– and breakfast at 7:00 the next morning!  Cost: $56  For two persons: $100 641 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair.  No walk-ins after 12:30; register online or call 908-884-4984.

  • Garden State Yoga’s Annual New Year’s Eve Celebration.  Doors open at 8:30; clases begin at 9 (including Kirtan, a Hot Power Yoga Class and a Guided Meditation).  New Year’s Eve Party at 11, with  a champagne toast, non alcoholic beverages and light appetizers. They encourage you to bring your own snacks too and “Release, Renew, Restore!”    71 Washington St., 2nd Floor, Bloomfield.  Register online or call the studio, 973-680-1400.
  • Ananta Yoga encourages those who have never done a single yoga pose to “show up.  Open up.  Breathe” at their New Year’s event.  The evening will “set intentions for the new year,” and includes yoga, a midnight toast, and treats. 9:30 – 12:30. $40 if pre-registered by 12/28; $50 full price.1133 Rte. 23 South, 2nd Floor, Wayne, NJ.  973-696-9642.

What are your plans?  Staying in?  Going out?  What do you recommend?

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