Businesses prepare for long, busy NYE

Tri State Taxi said expect a two hour wait after midnight

It’s New Years Eve, and that means many people in our area will head downtown for a night of celebration to ring in the new year.

For the past few days, downtown La Crosse businesses have been gearing up for a busy night.

Bill Hellerud has been a cab driver in La Crosse for 25 years. With all his experience behind the wheel, he knows how crazy the night ahead can be. “New Years Eve is pure chaos,” he laughs.

Hellerud’s cab company Tri State Taxi just opened this summer. He said his three vehicles will have about 25 cab fares on an average night. On New Year’s Eve, he expects that to triple.

“You can expect as much as a two hour wait time for some cars. It’s crazy insane,” Hellerud said. “From prior experiences I’ve picked up as early as 6 at night and still picking up people at 8-9 in the morning taking them home. Because the bars are open 24 hours, you’ll have round the clock service.”

Polito’s Pizza in downtown La Crosse is expecting a long and busy New Years Eve as well.

“We’ll have a line all the way out to the door from anywhere from 12:30 to about 4 (a.m.) is what we kind of expect,” said Jeff Zarecki, Polito’s Pizza manager.

Zarecki said he’ll have a few extra staff members on Wednesday night to keep the line of hungry people moving.

“Really it all starts up front with people that put in – that we have working up front. We’ll have someone that puts in slices (and) usually we’ll put one of our faster people that kind of knows what to do, because that’s the key, it really starts up there. Just keeping people in and out and then someone on the register that knows exactly what buttons their hittin’,” Zarecki said.

Polito’s staff has been preparing all week for Tuesday night’s crowd.

Hellerud will probably prepare by taking a nap before his shift.

But you can be sure both businesses will be ready for whatever 2015 can dish up.

“We stay open til right around 4:30-5 (a.m.),” Zarecki said.

“Basically the business type is an on call service, so once we get a call we’re on the road,” Hellerud said.

Another group putting in extra hours Tuesday night is La Crosse police. The department will have extra officers out on patrol throughout the evening. With a couple of officers focusing on the downtown area.

Your bartender may be able to help get you a ride home New Years Eve as well.

There are about 170 bars in La Crosse County that are part of the Tavern League, many of them participate in the “Safe Ride Program.”

That covers the cost of a cab to discourage drunk driving and get people home safe.