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Chi-Town Rising promises free viewing areas this New Year’s Eve

Revelers ring in 2016 at the inaugural Chi-Town Rising. | Provided photo

Organizers of Chi-Town Rising vowed Wednesday that free viewing will be an option when the downtown New Year’s Eve extravaganza returns this winter.

An announcement from Arena Partners, producer of the event, spelled out plans for the sophomore edition that include free outdoor areas on both sides of the Chicago River with views of the fireworks and the star ascending the Hyatt Regency Chicago at midnight, as well as entertainment on video screens.

Tickets again will be sold for indoor parties with live music, and WMAQ-Channel 5 and WSNS-Channel 44 return as the night’s live broadcasters.

The debut Chi-Town Rising drew 90,000 outdoor attendees last December, organizers said, for the event featuring host Mario Lopez and musical guests American Authors and Chicago. Some backlash arose when the event, initially announced as free, later was revealed to have private areas with admission fees but no designated areas for free viewing.

“We surveyed attendees from last year, and we have incorporated their feedback to make this year’s Chi–Town Rising celebration bigger and better,” John Murray, president and founder of Arena Partners, said in a statement.

The Family Countdown Celebration, a kid-friendly party earlier on New Year’s Eve day, will return. New to the celebration will be a 5K run in Millennium and Grant parks on New Year’s Day morning.