My two-year anniversary at OnMilwaukee.com is coming up in March, but I’m still finding new things to experience in and around Milwaukee, and "firsts" are always a lot of fun. I spent my first New Year’s Eve in the Cream City this week, and it was a lot more fun than I expected.
I first checked out a New Year’s Eve tradition, which was the Harlem Globetrotters entertaining downtown at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. I’d never seen the Globetrotters, but of course heard about them for years (loved the cartoon from back in the day!) and while I went in unsure of what to expect it proved to be more fun than I anticipated.
I expected it to be kid friendly and perhaps somewhat dull for an adult, that wasn’t the case. Our entire group of 30-somethings were definitely entertained.
We then headed to Umami Moto for a nice dinner, treating some out-of-towners to one of Milwaukee’s better sushi establishments. We had a great table watching the snow fall outside, outstanding service and excellent food. Owner Omar Shaikh even took a minute to say hello and welcome our visitors, which was a great touch.
As for what to do when the clock struck midnight, that was a little harder to determine. I was pleased with the variety of options Milwaukee had to celebrate the New Year, from high end "gala" type events to lower key dinner and drink options.
We elected to go off the map and take in the Dead Man’s Carnival at the Oriental Theatre. This was something we’ve never seen in this way – or at least not for a couple hours – and for our guests the theatre itself was a treat to see.
While we couldn’t get a cab to save our life, getting around the city was surprisingly easy and safe as a designated drive. (Yes, I say surprisingly because I did expect the roads to be in poor shape with the snow and people to make unwise decision regarding their vehicles). I saw a bunch of people utilizing free bus rides and ability to walk to-and-from some places made getting around convenient.
As someone who has spent his life going to Chicago for New Year’s, Milwaukee definitely treated me to a unique and really, really fun evening. Nearly two years in, and the Cream City continues to surprise me.
Jim Owczarski is an award-winning sports journalist and comes to Milwaukee by way of the Chicago Sun-Times Media Network.
A three-year Wisconsin resident who has considered Milwaukee a second home for the better part of seven years, he brings to the market experience covering nearly all major and college sports.
To this point in his career, he has been awarded six national Associated Press Sports Editors awards for investigative reporting, feature writing, breaking news and projects. He is also a four-time nominee for the prestigious Peter J. Lisagor Awards for Exemplary Journalism, presented by the Chicago Headline Club, and is a two-time winner for Best Sports Story. He has also won numerous other Illinois Press Association, Illinois Associated Press and Northern Illinois Newspaper Association awards.
Jim's career started in earnest as a North Central College (Naperville, Ill.) senior in 2002 when he received a Richter Fellowship to cover the Chicago White Sox in spring training. He was hired by the Naperville Sun in 2003 and moved on to the Aurora Beacon News in 2007 before joining OnMilwaukee.com.
In that time, he has covered the events, news and personalities that make up the PGA Tour, LPGA Tour, Major League Baseball, the National Football League, the National Hockey League, NCAA football, baseball and men's and women's basketball as well as boxing, mixed martial arts and various U.S. Olympic teams.
Golf aficionados who venture into Illinois have also read Jim in GOLF Chicago Magazine as well as the Chicago District Golfer and Illinois Golfer magazines.