Here’s how local businesses are altering their New Year’s Eve plans to celebrate the holiday safely

The group Jameson’s Folly played Irish tunes at the Dublin Pub Sunday night as the bar closed at 9 p.m. due to a order by Governor. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF
The group Jameson’s Folly played Irish tunes at the Dublin Pub Sunday night as the bar closed at 9 p.m. due to a order by Governor. MARSHALL GORBY/STAFF

While many would love to see 2020 off in a truly dramatic fashion, local and statewide mandates created to address the spread of the coronavirus have made the ultimate New Year’s Eve celebration a bit harder to pull off this year.

The statewide curfew of 10 p.m. means ringing in the New Year in a public space is no longer possible — a setback that has led to some truly inventive public 2020 sendoffs. Social distancing and occupancy guidelines have also made it difficult to celebrate the New Year with friends and family in one space.

“We’re all anxious to put 2020 behind us, but we still need to be cautious as we move into 2021,” said Vicky Knisley-Henry, a spokeswoman for Miami County Public Health.

Despite the obstacles, numerous local businesses and organizations have managed to come up with innovative ways to say goodbye to 2020.

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Establishments like the Dublin Pub in Dayton and Star City Brewing Company in Miamisburg will celebrate different time zones in order to properly toast the New Year before 10 p.m.

“Given the curfew, we thought it might be fun to celebrate the new year for a territory in a different time zone,” said Justin Kohnen, owner of the Star City Brewing Company. “We chose South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, which are three hours ahead of us.”

The Dublin Pub adjusted its celebration to include a toast to several New Year’s celebrations in countries around the world. This international celebration will begin with a toast to Germany at 6 p.m., then a toast for Ireland at 7 p.m., for Iceland at 8 p.m., and finally for Brazil at 9 p.m.

“We are fortunate in that every year we celebrate New Year’s twice — once at 7 p.m. for Ireland, toasting at the same time Ireland celebrates New Year’s across the pond,” said Steve Tieber, owner of the Dublin Pub. “We decided to make the most of this type of thinking (this year), by celebrating four distinct time zones starting at 6 p.m. We will also have live music featuring the talents of two great Celtic and Irish bands, Father, Son, & Friends, as well as Jameson’s Folly.”

Safety issues

Lt. Matt Schmenk, commander of the Xenia Post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, said it isn’t law enforcement’s job to enforce the governor’s mandates and will not pull over drivers out past curfew.

Schmenk said drunk driving is still a concern this holiday and his post will deploy additional units on New Year’s Eve to watch for impaired driving. Schmenk implored celebrants to make sure they have a sober driver.

The Dublin Pub began serving a traditional Irish breakfast at 5:30 a.m. for carryout customers on St. Patrick's Day,  March, 17, 2020. The Oregon District restaurant planned to delivery food, wine and beer to patron throughout the day. They could also carry it out or have it hopped to their car.
The Dublin Pub began serving a traditional Irish breakfast at 5:30 a.m. for carryout customers on St. Patrick's Day, March, 17, 2020. The Oregon District restaurant planned to delivery food, wine and beer to patron throughout the day. They could also carry it out or have it hopped to their car.

Credit: Dublin Pub

Credit: Dublin Pub

“I don’t really know how the pandemic is going to affect New Year’s,” he said. “It’s something we can’t predict … Driving sober saves lives and will make our roadways safer.

Last New Year’s Eve, the Ohio State Highway Patrol made 124 OVI arrests statewide.

Change in celebrations

Due to these coronavirus-related restrictions, several of the area’s most popular events have been canceled or altered to become a virtual experience.

Star City Brewing Company in Miamisburg typically ushers in the New Year with its annual Star Drop, a miniature version of the New Year’s Eve ball drop that takes place on their outdoor patio. However, this year, to comply with new guidelines, the brewery will be hosting a scaled-down version of their New Year’s Eve event.

Those guests who would rather watch from home can visit the brewery on Dec. 29 and 30 to purchase a carryout item and register for the live stream of the New Year’s Eve event. While at the event, guests will be expected to follow all guidelines in order to ensure that the event goes on without a hitch. Aside from requiring masks when not consuming food or beverages and social distancing, the brewery is encouraging its guests to remain seated throughout the event and avoid congregating.

“To prevent people from gathering in a group on our patio to watch our Star Drop, we will require everyone to remain seated in the brewery while we live stream the drop to all our televisions in the brewery,” said Kohnen.

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To make its celebration possible, the Dublin Pub will enforce several rules to ensure that all customers remain safe and secure — while still having a good time.

“Obviously, the stay at home orders and the curfews have changed the nature of our business considerably,” said Tieber. “We are treating New Year’s Eve just like any other day. We are open with nearly 180 seats, socially distant and with our facility and employees following all the CDC as well as Ohio health guidelines.”

The Century Bar also will host a rather cheeky celebration, ringing in the New Year every hour, on the hour.

Star City Brewing Company in Miamisburg took full advantage of the full moon to pull-off its first ever Halloween in July on Saturday, July 28. The event kicked off with a Graveyard and Ghosts tour at Highland Memorial Cemetery, 723 Upper Miamisburg Rd in Miamisburg. The tour then reconvened at Star City Brewing Company, 319 S 2nd St in Miamisburg for ghost stories from the Peerless Mill and a special "spooky" tapping of the brewery's new English Barleywine, Highland's Finest and a full evening of music. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Star City Brewing Company in Miamisburg took full advantage of the full moon to pull-off its first ever Halloween in July on Saturday, July 28. The event kicked off with a Graveyard and Ghosts tour at Highland Memorial Cemetery, 723 Upper Miamisburg Rd in Miamisburg. The tour then reconvened at Star City Brewing Company, 319 S 2nd St in Miamisburg for ghost stories from the Peerless Mill and a special "spooky" tapping of the brewery's new English Barleywine, Highland's Finest and a full evening of music. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Star City Brewing Company in Miamisburg took full advantage of the full moon to pull-off its first ever Halloween in July on Saturday, July 28. The event kicked off with a Graveyard and Ghosts tour at Highland Memorial Cemetery, 723 Upper Miamisburg Rd in Miamisburg. The tour then reconvened at Star City Brewing Company, 319 S 2nd St in Miamisburg for ghost stories from the Peerless Mill and a special "spooky" tapping of the brewery's new English Barleywine, Highland's Finest and a full evening of music. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER
Star City Brewing Company in Miamisburg took full advantage of the full moon to pull-off its first ever Halloween in July on Saturday, July 28. The event kicked off with a Graveyard and Ghosts tour at Highland Memorial Cemetery, 723 Upper Miamisburg Rd in Miamisburg. The tour then reconvened at Star City Brewing Company, 319 S 2nd St in Miamisburg for ghost stories from the Peerless Mill and a special "spooky" tapping of the brewery's new English Barleywine, Highland's Finest and a full evening of music. TOM GILLIAM / CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHER

Credit: Tom Gilliam

Credit: Tom Gilliam

“Given our restrictions with the curfew and the groundhog day of a year that 2020 has been, we decided that every hour on the hour we will ring out the old year,” said Joseph Head, the co-owner of Century Bar. “We are simply making the best of this unprecedented situation.”

Reservations for the event open at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 31 and can be made by visiting the Century Bar’s website.

Additionally, the Trolley Stop in the Oregon District will be scaling down its typical New Year’s Eve celebration in order to secure a safe (and, well, sanitized) environment. Since the Oregon District establishment cannot have a proper celebration this year, due to decreased occupancy standards, the Trolley Stop has not put together an elaborate event this year.

“We can’t have the magic of saying goodbye to 2020 together,” said Robin Sassenberg, owner of the Trolley Stop. “Every year, we have a celebration with live music, hats and champagne, but [this year] that’s not possible. We will do a small champagne toast at 9:30 p.m., but we can’t have a crowd, so we aren’t really promoting anything. No live music! Which is so sad and has been a heartbreaker all this year.”

A number of other restaurants and bars, like Hole in the Wall, Troll Pub, Jay’s Seafood, Lily’s Dayton, Lucky’s Taproom and Trolley Stop are also serving up COVID-friendly New Year’s Eve events this year.

Advice on celebrating

Area health officials said their advice for celebrating New Year’s is the same as it was for other winter holidays: stay home and celebrate only with those you live with.

“You shouldn’t go to or attend parties with anyone who doesn’t already live in your same household,” said Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health – Dayton & Montgomery County.

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If you decide to go out or host a celebration, the Centers for Disease Control recommends wearing a face mask and social distancing.

Knisley-Henry said if an event is too crowded when you arrive, “go home or go somewhere else.”

The coronavirus remains widespread – there were 8,569 cases reported from Dec. 9 to Dec. 22 in Montgomery, Greene, Miami and Warren Counties. Given population, each county is over seven times what the CDC defines as high incidence.

Hospitals are seeking to avoid a post-holiday surge, which could push already stretched health care capacity over the limit. It could be weeks before the region knows the effects of Christmas parties on coronavirus spread since it takes time for the virus to cause symptoms, tests to detect the virus and results to be reported.

Dayton’s Century Bar has reopened in the three-story former Dayton Power and Light building, 18 S. Jefferson St. The historic cherry wood bar, the centerpiece of the original Century Bar, has been restored and installed in the new expanded space. Century Bar is co-owned by Diane Spitzig and Joseph Head.   LISA POWELL / STAFF
Dayton’s Century Bar has reopened in the three-story former Dayton Power and Light building, 18 S. Jefferson St. The historic cherry wood bar, the centerpiece of the original Century Bar, has been restored and installed in the new expanded space. Century Bar is co-owned by Diane Spitzig and Joseph Head. LISA POWELL / STAFF

Health officials recommend you celebrate at home this year. However, here’s how to have a safer New Year’s Eve celebration if you decide to go out or host, according to the Centers for Disease Control

  • Talk with guests ahead of time to set expectations for celebrating together.
  • Limit the number of guests at a celebration.
  • Keep celebrations outdoors, if possible.
  • Encourage guests to wear face masks and provide extra unused masks. Wear a face mask with two or more layers.
  • Stay at least six feet apart from others who don’t live with you.
  • Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated indoor spaces. If hosting indoors, open windows and doors.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Guests should bring their own food, drinks, plates, cups and utensils.
  • Avoid shouting and singing. Keep background music volume low so guests don’t need to shout.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs that can alter judgement and make it difficult to practice safety measures.

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