By MIKE NORTON In traditional times and places, where the rituals and ceremonies of life aren't governed by the rules of retail sales, the Christmas season isn't over. In fact, it doesn't actually begin until Christmas Day, and lasts for the next 12 days (Hence, the whole "Twelve Days of Christmas" thing.) So it's still safe to say, Merry Christmas! Except that I have eaten far too much. A two-hour Sunday walk with Karen across the snowy ridges above Old Mission Point did little to reduce my five-pound holiday weight gain, and only sharpened my appetite. Fortunately the week ahead holds lots of opportunities for outdoor exercise before New Year's Eve is upon us with more temptations to stuff myself with vast quantities of food and drink. In fact, here's a list of some of the many feasting and frolicking events scheduled for Friday night. (Just in case you were wondering where to add an inch or two to your own waistline: Of course, Traverse City's big New Year's Eve event is the 2nd Annual Cherry -T Ball Drop, our own small-town version of Times Square, which will be at corner of Cass and Front Streets. Starting at 6 p.m., they'll block the streets to traffic, and just before midnight a giant illuminated cherry will start descending from the sky. There'll be live entertainment, lots of fun, and a charity collection for food and hygiene items - but there's no admission. Out at the Grand Traverse Resort, they're having a night of swing dancing in Governors Hall featuring the Bay Area Big Band. There's a specia.l package that includes a night's stay, a 6-course dinner and even dancing lessons. Just up the road at the Leelanau Sands and Turtle Creek Casinos, there's a special promo called "Champagne Dreams and Winning Wishes" where you can win your share of $50,000 in eCredits (between the two Casinos) plus a Ford Explorer (at Leelanau Sands) or a Chevy Silverado (at Turtle Creek.) At the Great Wolf Lodge, there's a Grand Buffet in the Camp Critter Bar and Grill, a Glow Party in the White Pine Ballroom from 9 to midnight and an "Old Hollywood" Party in the Grand Lobby. And the Holiday Inn West Bay is having a "New Year's Eve Comedy Night" in the Leelanau Rooms featuring stand-up comic Stu Stuart, and a "New Year's Eve Bash" in Shimmers Lounge. At Shanty Creek Resorts, the Lakeview Hotel and Conference Center is featuring the Dominic Fortuna Dinner Show, followed by fireworks on Summit Mountain just after midnight, while Ivan's at Schuss Village is having a rocking dance party featuring In Custody. The ParkShore Resort has a party going in their Parkshore Lounge, featuring a special four-course dinner at Morels. And at the City Opera House, they're having the SwingShift and the Stars Dance off for Charity NYE-Grand Finale. Doors open at 8:30pm. If you're just looking for a special New Year's Eve dinner, check out these options: Amical, Downtown: special menu until 11pm, reservations highly recommended (231) 941-8888. Blu, Glen Arbor Special menu, New Year's Eve dinner, New Year's Day brunch. 231-334-2530 The Bluebird, Leland Special menu, Open 5-10pm, reservations are recommended. Call 256-9081 Blue Tractor Cook House: Union Street, Old Town Dining specials from 11am-11pm., Champagne toast at midnight. Reservations not required. The Boathouse: 14039 Peninsula Dr. Old Mission New Year's Eve Celebration. Open 5pm Early Bird seating (4 course meal for $29) Seating from 5pm or 5:30pm. Limited seating available. Regular dinner menu starts at 6pm-11pm. Reservations preferred call 223-4030. Circa Estate Winery:7788 E. Horn Road, Lake Leelanau Entertainment, Five course dinner, Midnight toast and dancing. Special performance by Gillian Bell Ensemble. Limited availability. Call for reservations 231-271-1177. Firefly: Cass Street, Downtown Dinner & Drink specials Midnight-1am. Reservations recommended (231) 932-1310 Giovanni's Roadhouse: 9205 US 31 S. Interlochen New Year's Eve & New Year's Day. Dinner for Two: $55 includes choice of appetizer or dessert, 2 salads, 2 entrées. Choose from Prime Rib & Scampi, Salmon Oscar & Herbed Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Florentine Stuffed Ravioli. Reservations are recommended (231) 276-6244. Hanna: Cass Street, Downtown Regular menu offered along with customer favorites featured items Open until 11pm. Reservations recommended (231) 946-8207 Lil Bo: 540 West Front Regular menu until 8pm. Fireworks at midnight. (231) 946-6925 Loading Dock: 205 Lake Ave., Downtown Open until 4am. Live entertainment by RootStand, Harper & other very special guests! $10 cover charge includes a champagne toast at midnight and party favors.(231) 941-4422. Mission Table: 13512 Peninsula Drive, Old Mission Peninsula Open 5pm-9pm, Four course tasting menu, vegetarian options are available. $49 plus tax and gratuity Reservations required (231) 223-4222. Jolly Pumpkin: (behind Mission Table) Serving regular menu 4pm-10pm. (231) 223-4333 North Peak Brewing Company, Downtown Open until midnight. Reservations recommended (231) 941-7325 Pearl's: 617 Ames, Elk Rapids Festive feature menu $25.99 (plus full menu available). Live entertainment by the Bohemians from 8pm-12:30am. No cover charge. Champagne toast at midnight. Party favors and noise makers. 231-264-0530 Phil's on Front: Downtown Open 3:30pm-2AM. Special menu, Live Entertainment from 9pm-midnight. (231) 929-1710. Poppycock's: Downtown Serving dinner until 11pm, bar open until 1am. No reservations accepted. Old Mission Tavern: 17015 Center Rd. Old Mission 21st Annual New Year's Eve Celebration. Serving 5pm-9:30pm. Including superb appetizer, salad and dessert, entrees: Prime Rib, Salmon, Seafood Medley, Twin Lobster Tails, Beef Tenderloin, Surf & Turf, or Rack of Lamb. Regular menu available. Reservations are highly recommended. (231) 223-7280. Red Ginger: Downtown New Year's Eve Soiree! 9:30pm-next year. A culinary journey of lavish creations offered throughout the evening as a "Taste of Red Ginger." Admission includes three Premium Libations, Live Entertainment, taxes and gratuities. Passes to the first 100 guests are $125. Tickets limited to 200. Call 231-944-1733 Southside Hide Out: 620 W. Wexford Ave., Buckley Country music star Justine Blazer will be performing with special guest artist Tammy Sundelius. Full evening package-$20 buys tickets to the concert and dinner buffet with New York strip steak, pasta, endless salad, baked potato & garlic bread. Reservations are highly suggested (231) 269-3738. Streeter's: 1669 S. Garfield Ave. Big Bang New Years Eve Party 2011 with Evershine. Tickets $10 include a champagne toast & party favors. The party starts at 9pm. Must be 21 years old with a valid photo ID. Timberlee Hills: 10484 S. Timberlee D. New Year's Eve at Timberlee Hills, from 7pm-midnight. Snow tubing, pizza and pasta buffet, soda, live DJ, Cash bar. Adults $25, children-18yrs. $18, kids 2yrs. and under free. Call for reservations (231) 941-4142. Trattoria Stella: Building 50, Grand Traverse Commons Chef Miles will present an amazing a la carte dinner menu for you! Reservations are available on the half hour from 5-10pm. Reservations are recommended (231) 929-8989 Wilderness Crossing: 1.5 miles west of Chum's Corner New Year's Eve Family Pack: $50 for up to 5 people. Packages include; Bowling 1.5 hours, 2 slices of pizza each, 1 pop per person, add Laser Tag at $5 person, Mini-golf at $3 person. Pool Tables $8 per hour Pick your time period: 10am, noon, 2pm, 4pm, 6pm, 8pm, 10pm-midnight special! And in the Wild Pony Saloon there's live entertainment by Common Cents (Classic Rock) from 9pm to 1:30am. Please call for reservations (231) 943-9200. Whew! That's a lot of stuff. And I can remember when this place used to be pretty quiet this time of year....
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