Tag Archives: events

Weird weather: Seeing global warming’s fingerprints

A new scientific report finds man-made climate change played some role in two dozen extreme weather events last year but not in a few other weird weather instances around the world.

An annual report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found climate change was a factor in 24 of 30 strange weather events.

They include 11 cases of high heat, as well as unusual winter sunshine in the United Kingdom, Alaskan wildfires and odd “sunny day” flooding in Miami.

The study documented climate change-goosed weather in Alaska, Washington state, the southeastern United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, China, Japan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the western north Pacific cyclone region, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Ethiopia and southern Africa.

“It has to be measureable. It has to be detectable. There has to be evidence for it and that’s what these papers do,” said NOAA scientist Stephanie Herring, co-editor of the report.

In six cases — including cold snaps in the United States and downpours in Nigeria and India — the scientists could not detect climate change’s effects. Other scientists, though, disputed that finding for the cold snap that hit the Northeast.

Herring highlighted the Miami flooding in September 2015. Because of rising sea levels and sinking land, extremely high tides flooded the streets with 22 inches of water.

“This one is just very remarkable because truly, not a cloud in the sky, and these types of tidal nuisance flooding events are clearly become more frequent,” she said.

The report also found an increase in tropical cyclone activity and strength in the western Pacific can be blamed partly on climate change and partly on El Nino, the now-gone natural weather phenomenon. But similar storm strengthening hasn’t increased noticeably around the United States yet, said study co-editor Martin Hoerling, a NOAA scientist.

The report was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. Using accepted scientific techniques, 116 scientists from around the world calculated whether the odds of the extreme weather events were increased by global warming. They based their calculations on observed data, understanding of the physics of the climate and computer simulations — techniques that the National Academy of Sciences said were valid earlier this year.

Columbia University meteorology professor Adam Sobel, who was on the national academy panel but not part of this report, praised the NOAA study but noted it wasn’t comprehensive. It picked only certain but not all weather extremes to study.

For the February 2015 Northeast cold snap, other scientists have connected the polar vortex pushing south to shrinking ice in the Arctic Ocean.

Judah Cohen, seasonal forecasting chief at Atmospheric Environmental Research in Lexington, Massachusetts, said he even predicted the 2015 polar vortex because of the low sea ice. He said the same thing is happening with the bitter cold hitting the U.S. this week.

NOAA’s Hoerling said the research found a connection between the shrinking ice and the polar vortex but didn’t see one causing the other.

On the web

Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

Livestreaming apps beyond Facebook Live

Live video is growing more popular as a way for families to share big moments and for artists and athletes to connect with fans.

Livestreaming has also made the news in recent weeks as House Democrats used Periscope to broadcast a sit-in over gun control after the Republican majority cut off television cameras.

It also got attention when a Minnesota woman used Facebook Live to stream footage of her dying boyfriend after he was shot by police.

Below are some of the most popular ways to livestream from your phone:

 

FACEBOOK LIVE

Anyone with a Facebook account can livestream anything using Facebook’s app.

To use it, tap the empty box where your status update would go. A menu should pop up with the option for “live video.”

A couple of taps later, you are live, broadcasting to your friends.

You can change the privacy setting to make your live video public, too.

The video is available for replay once you are done. You can delete it or save it on your phone if you want.

 

PERISCOPE

The Twitter-owned video-streaming app made its debut about a year ago, well-timed with the exponential growth of people watching and taking videos on their smartphones.

You can broadcast to select followers or the broader public.

You can share your precise location or keep it private.

Viewers can send comments, and streams can be shared on Twitter, Facebook or other social media services.

 

MEERKAT

Seventeen months ago, Meerkat was the darling of the South By Southwest Interactive tech confab, seemingly destined to make livestreaming the next hot thing.

Then came Periscope and Facebook Live, and Meerkat’s popularity dropped.

The company is no longer focused on livestreaming and has instead “pivoted” — Silicon Valley speak for shifting resources elsewhere when your first (or second, or third) idea doesn’t work.

 

YOUNOW

You sign in with their Twitter, Facebook, Google or Instagram account to stream live videos.

YouNow also lets you “discover talented broadcasters” and video chat live with people around the world, as its website touts.

Music is an especially popular broadcast topic, but you’ll find the usual stuff as well, such as people livestreaming themselves as they sleep. Zzzzz.

 

TWITCH

The Amazon-owned livestreaming service started off as a way for gamers to stream their gameplay and show off their skills.

Now, Twitch is broadening its reach. It has added channels in its “creative” area for people to broadcast live music, drawing, programming and so on. You can pay a subscription fee for certain benefits on channels, and even tip performers.

People can livestream from traditional computers, too — not just smartphones, as most other services require.

 

On the web

Live streaming pays off: http://apne.ws/2auELV4

 

Community bulletin board: Energy fair, art grants, awards and more

Energized for sustainable future: The annual Energy Fair promoting sustainable and renewable energy takes place June 17–19 in Custer. The fair, presented by Midwest Renewable Energy Association, is in its 27th year, making it the nation’s longest-running energy education event of its kind. Attendees can expect more than 250 workshops, as well as entertainment and exhibit booths and food and beverage vendors. For more, go to theenergyfair.org.

For the arts: The Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission awarded 47 grants totaling $98,494 for community arts, cultural and history programs. The county dollars were combined with funds from the Endres Manufacturing Company Foundation, the Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation and the Pleasant T. Rowland Foundation. For more, go to danearts.com.

Rummaging for improvements: The Milwaukee NARI Foundation Inc., the educational and charitable arm of the Milwaukee NARI Home Improvement Council, raised about $8,500 in May with the 11th annual Home Improvement Rummage Sale. NARI provides financial and educational support to students pursuing careers in home improvement and remodeling, while helping to reduce the amount of construction and demolition materials in landfills. For more, go to milwaukeenari.org.

PPAWI’s praise: Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin is honoring state Sen. Fred Risser’s contributions to women’s health with a lifetime achievement award. Riser is the longest serving state senator in the United States and has been at the forefront of championing policies that women, men and families benefit from today, PPAWI said.

“From the repeal of Wisconsin’s Comstock Laws in 1976 that made birth control and information about contraception available to all Wisconsin women, regardless of their marital status, to enhancing rape victims’ access to birth control to prevent pregnancy and comprehensive sex education for youth in our schools, Sen. Risser has lead the way,” read a statement from the organization. For more, go to ppawi.org.

Wright way to summer: Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin presents in June a tour of 10 architecturally significant buildings in the Racine area, including several Wright-designed structures and seven sites inspired by Wright’s vision. For more, go to wrightinwisconsin.org.

Get to the Big Gig: Pre-Fare digital ticket service is a simpler, cheaper way for Summerfest celebrants to get to the festival grounds this year. Plus, until June 24, people who purchase a Pre-Fare ticket can get a free weekday ticket to Summerfest. For more, go to ridemcts.com.

ART GUIDE: The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is offering a training course for docents on Tuesdays, Sept. 20–Dec. 13, at the museum. MMoCA docents conduct tours of the museum’s exhibitions to groups that range from school-age children to older adults. They also involve museum visitors in discussions that encourage them to look closely at and interpret works of art. For a position description and application, visit mmoca.org and click Support/Docent Program, or contact Sheri Castelnuovo at 608.257.0158 or sheri@mmoca.org. The application deadline is Sept. 9.

WIND ENERGY: Wisconsin Public Power Inc. plans to invest in wind power for its next electric generation need, according to a news release from Clean Wisconsin praising the development. WPPI recently issued a request for proposals for 100 MW of wind power, which is enough electric generation to power approximately 30,000 homes. WPPI is one of several utilities that met the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires that 10 percent of electricity come from renewable sources, several years ahead of the 2015 deadline.

Send community announcements to lmneff@www.wisconsingazette.com.

Pride in the USA: Calendar of LGBT Pride events

Even before the massive parades in San Francisco and New York City later this month, millions of people will go over the rainbow for Pride. A glance at the crowded U.S. Pride calendar — heaviest in June to mark the anniversary of the 1969 riots at the Stonewall Inn in New York City and to usher in the summer.

June

= June: CenLa Pride in Alexandria, Louisiana; Boqueron Pride and San Juan Pride in Puerto Rico; Cleveland Pride in Ohio; El Paso Pride in Texas; NWA Pride in Fayetteville, Arkansas; Rocket City Pride in Huntsville, Alabama; Hampton Roads Pride in Norfolk, Virginia; Utah Pride in Salt Lake City.

= June 3-5: Kansas City Pridefest in Missouri.

= June 4: Honolulu Pride; Ferndale Pride in Michigan.

= June 4-12: Central Alabama Pride in Birmingham.

= June 5: Jersey Pride in Asbury Park; East Central Minnesota Pride in Pine City; Queens LGBT Pride in New York.

= June 8-12: Key West Pride.

= June 8-19: Denver Pridefest.

= June 9-12: Albuquerque Pride in New Mexico.

= June 10-12: Milwaukee PrideFest; Des Moines Capital Pride in Iowa; Los Angeles WeHo Pride; Capital Pride in Washington, D.C.; Philadelphia Pride.

= June 10-11: Kalamazoo Pride.

= June 11: Albany, Long Island and Brooklyn Prides in New York; Baton Rouge Pride; Indy Pridefest in Indianapolis; Wyoming Equality in Cheyenne; OutSpokane in Spokane, Washington.

= June 11-12: Pittsburgh Pride; Motor City Pride in Detroit; Boston Pride.

= June 17-18: Kentuckiana Pride in Louisville.

= June 17-19: Stonewall Columbus Pride in Ohio; New Orleans Pride; Olympia Capital Pride in Washington.

= June 17-25: Heartland Pride in Omaha.

= June 18: Rhode Island Pride in Providence; Boise Pride; Wilton Manors Pride in Florida.

= June 18-19: Portland Pride in Oregon.

= June 18-25: Anchorage Pride Festival.

= June 18-26: Chicago Pride.

= June 19-26: Houston Pride.

= June 19-25: OC Pride in Orange County, California.

= June 21-26: New York City Pride.

= June 24-25: Nashville Pride; Augusta Pride in Georgia.

= June 24-26: St. Louis Pridefest; Oklahoma City Pride; St. Pete Pride in Florida.

= June 25: Central Oregon Pride in Bend; Cincinnati Pride; Flagstaff Northern Arizona Pride; Salisbury Pride in North Carolina; Santa Fe Pride in New Mexico.

= June 25-26: Twin Cities Pride in Minnesota; San Francisco Pride.

= June 26: Seattle Pridefest.

July

= July: Bellingham Pride in Washington; Deming Pride in New Mexico.

= July 2: Pride San Antonio.

= July 9: Tacoma Pride; Pride Alive in Green Bay.

= July 9-10: Colorado Springs Pride.

= July 15-17: San Diego Pride.

= July 17: Kenosha Pride.

= July 23: Reno Pride in Nevada.

= July 23-24: Pines Party on Fire Island in New York; Baltimore Pride.

August

= August: West Street Beach Pride in Laguna Beach, California; P-Town Carnival in Provincetown, Massachusetts; Toledo Pride.

= Aug. 6: Delaware Pride in Dover; Delaware Pride Fest in Rehoboth.

= Aug. 13: Eugene Pride in Oregon.

= Aug. 20-21: Charlotte Pride in North Carolina.

= Aug. 21: Outreach Pride Parade and Rally in Madison.

= Aug. 26-27: Michigan Pride in Lansing.

= Aug. 28: Silicon Valley Pride in San Jose.

September

= September: North Carolina Pride in Durham; Bluegrass Black Pride in Lexington, Kentucky; Oregon Coast Pride in Lincoln City; Sedona Pride in Arizona; Wichita Pride in Kansas; San Gabriel Valley Pride in Pasadena, California.

= Sept. 6-11: Worcester Pride in Massachusetts.

= Sept. 10: Pride Outloud Potluck Picnic in Appleton.

= Sept. 11: Pride Vermont in Burlington and Oakland Pride in California.

= Sept. 15-Oct. 15: Hispanic LGBT Pride in Miami.

= Sept. 18: Dallas Pride.

= Sept. 24: Space Coast Pride in Melbourne, Florida; Virginia Gay Pride in Richmond.

= Sept. 24-25: Mid-South Pride in Memphis.

= Sept. 27: Austin Pride in Texas.

= Sept. 30-Oct. 2: Gay Days Disneyland in California.

October

= October: Ocala Pride Festival in Florida; Northern Virginia Pride in Centerville; South Carolina Pride in Colombia; Jacksonville Pride in Florida; Tucson Pride.

= Oct. 3-5: Fort Worth Pride in Texas.

= Oct. 8: Oceanside North County Pride in California;  Orlando Pride in Florida.

= Oct. 8-9: Atlanta Pride.

= Oct. 16: Central Arkansas Pride in Little Rock.

= Oct. 16-17: Winston-Salem Pride in North Carolina.

= Oct. 21-23: Las Vegas Pride.

= Oct. 22: Savannah Pride in Georgia.

November

= Nov. 4-6: Palm Springs Pride.

= Nov. 15-Dec. 1: Gay Days Fort Lauderdale.

Read our special Pride supplement.

 

Community bulletin board: Fill your plate, take a hike

Fill your plate: Clean Wisconsin, the state’s oldest environmental organization, is selling seats at the table for its gala fundraiser, Epicurean Evening Milwaukee.

Celebrated Cream City chefs will prepare a multi-course meal for supporters June 16 at Discovery World.

“We are extremely excited to bring this event to the shores of Lake Michigan,” said Clean Wisconsin CEO Mark Redsten. “These chefs care deeply for Wisconsin and our environment and we are fortunate to bring them together for a night of great food to bring awareness to Clean Wisconsin’s work in Milwaukee and across the state.”

Participating chefs include Adam Siegel of Lake Park Bistro, Cole Ersel of Wolf Peach and Justin Carlisle of Ardent.

“As a chef who takes care and pride in the state and region where I have grown up and will raise my family, I care deeply about a clean Wisconsin,” said Carlisle. For more, go to wisconsinepicureanevening.org.

Party time: The Democratic Party of Wisconsin holds its statewide convention June 3–4 in Green Bay. The party plans to host candidates on the 2016 ballot, caucus meetings, socials and convention reports. The national convention is in late July in Philadelphia. For more, go to milwaukeedems.org.

Something to chalk about: Artists are needed for the Great Lakes Chalk Art Competition June 11–12 in downtown Racine. The event is in conjunction with the Monument Square Art Festival. At least 24 artists will work on panels on Fifth Street and finished work will be displayed at the Racine Arts Council Artspace Gallery. For more, go to www.monumentsquareartfest.com.

Sustainability summer: The Point Back to the Land in Stevens Point offers weekend itineraries for summer travelers looking to learn about sustainable living in Wisconsin. Getaways focus on renewable farming, sustainable homes, plants for the people, container gardening and more. For more, go to pointbacktotheland.com.

Annual meetup: The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin holds its annual meeting June 3–5 at the Landmark Resort in Egg Harbor. The agenda includes discussions on Wisconsin water quality, engaging the emerging electorate and building membership. For more, go to www.lwvwi.org.

Solstice celebration: The River Revitalization Foundation holds a summer solstice walk June 20 in Milwaukee, beginning at the RRF office, 2134 N. Riverboat Road. For more, email vbushell@gmail.com.

Send notices for the bulletin board to lmneff@www.wisconsingazette.com.

Photo: Pixabay Something to chalk about: Artists are needed for the Great Lakes Chalk Art Competition June 11-12 in downtown Racine. The event is in conjunction with the Monument Square Art Festival. At least 24 artists will work on panels on Fifth Street and finished work will be displayed at the Racine Arts Council Artspace Gallery. For more, go to www.monumentsquareartfest.com.
Something to chalk about: Artists are needed for the Great Lakes Chalk Art Competition June 11-12 in downtown Racine. The event is in conjunction with the Monument Square Art Festival. At least 24 artists will work on panels on Fifth Street and finished work will be displayed at the Racine Arts Council Artspace Gallery. For more, go to www.monumentsquareartfest.com.

 

Bulletin board: WiG’s roundup of community news

A roundup of news from Wisconsin’s progressive community and its nonprofits.

Open house for vets: Wisconsin Veterans Network, a new collaborative offering a range of services to veterans and their families in southeastern Wisconsin, holds an open house 9 a.m.–noon April 23 at 6317 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis. For more, go to www.wisvetsnet.org.

Pride seeks scholar: Milwaukee Pride, in partnership with Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, created a fund to provide an annual $3,000 Rising Star scholarship to a MIAD student. “We have a mission to create opportunities for LGBTQ people, their friends and families in Milwaukee,” said Wes Shaver, Milwaukee Pride president-elect. “As an emerging brand, we’re very excited to tap into MIAD’s culture of creative energy, diversity and innovation. The Rising Star scholarship will be both an opportunity for us to teach and learn.” Candidates can apply to info@milwaukeepride.org.

Fest’s fiscal sponsorship: Milwaukee Film is launching a “fiscal sponsorship” program to support filmmakers and film projects that advance its organizational mission. Sponsored projects would be able to solicit funds from government, foundation, individual and other philanthropic sources without needing to obtain their own nonprofit status. Milwaukee Film would provide financial reporting support and more. For more information, go to mkefilm.org.

Funding for reforms: The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded a $2 million grant to Milwaukee County to implement reforms aimed at reducing the jail population and addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system. The grant is part of the Safety and Justice Challenge. The county will implement reforms to address the main drivers of its jail population, which include people with mental health and substance abuse and people accused of non-violent misdemeanor offenses. The goal is to reduce the average daily jail population by 18 percent over two years. For more, go to www.safetyandjusticechallenge.org.

Book lovers bargains: The Spring Book Sale sponsored by Friends of the Whitefish Bay Library is May 7–8 at the library, 420 N. Marlborough Ave. The sale is 9:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. May 7 and noon–3 p.m. May 8. The semiannual book sale is a tradition among area book lovers. For more, go to wfblibrary.org.

Compact coalition’s challenge: More than 99 percent of people who registered comments in a regional review explicitly opposed or expressed concern over Waukesha’s request to divert Great Lakes water. More than 11,200 public comments were submitted to the Regional Body and Compact Council on the issue, and most of them opposed the proposal, according to a review of the comments completed by a coalition of environmental groups. The Compact Implementation Coalition consists of River Alliance of Wisconsin, National Wildlife Federation, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin. Next, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin Regional Body and Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin Compact Council, which is comprised of the eight Great Lakes governors and two Canadian premiers, will meet to reach a decision on the application. For more, visit www.protectourgreatlakes.org.

First Nations launch: The Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium hosts the nation’s largest high-powered rocket competition for Native American college students April 23 at Richard Bong State Recreational Area in Kansasville. The launch is part of a First Nations program scheduled from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on April 21–23 at Carthage College in Kenosha.

Care and choice conversation: The adult spiritual enrichment committee of Unitarian Church North in Mequon presents “Compassion and Choices: Care and Choice at the End of Life” at 11:30 a.m. on April 24. Dr. Bruce Wilson, a board certified cardiologist and Milwaukee hospice physician, is the featured speaker. Wilson is a former board member of Compassion and Choices, the largest organization in the United States advocating for people’s rights at the end of life. For more, go to ucnorth.org.

On the WiG community bulletin board …

Planning Pride

PrideFest Milwaukee is selling tickets for the June 10-–12 LGBT Pride festival taking place at Henry Maier Festival Park on the lakefront. Single-day tickets purchased before May 10 cost $13. At the gate, tickets cost $17. For more info, go to pridefest.com.

Drag for Pride

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee presents the UWM Drag Show Feb. 27 at the Milwaukee Theatre. Performer tips at the performance — billed as the largest drag show in the Midwest — benefit Project Q, the youth program at the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, and also Pathfinders Milwaukee. The event is free but the UW-M LGBT Resource Center will accept donations at the door, which opens at 6 p.m. for a 7:30 p.m. show. For more, email Milwaukee Pride at

For Feingold

The League of Conservation Voters Action Fund and the Sierra Club endorsed Russ Feingold for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin. In a joint announcement, the groups cited Feingold’s commitment to combating climate change, support for clean energy investment and record as an environmentalist. The Democrat is running to unseat Republican Ron Johnson. “Russ Feingold is the Sierra Club’s choice for Senate because we know he will work to protect our environment for Wisconsin families,” said Bill Davis, director of the Sierra Club/John Muir chapter. For more, go to lcv.org.

Lunch reservations

Women’s Leadership luncheons presented by the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce take place March 22 in Madison and March 23 in Milwaukee. Tonya Atkinson, vice president for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin and a volunteer for many LGBT efforts, is the keynote speaker at both events. For more, go to www.wislgbtchamber.com.

Running into 20

Front Runners Milwaukee, an affiliate of Frontrunners International, is celebrating 20 years. Since 1996, runners have met at the east end of North Avenue for Saturday morning runs and walks, followed by breakfast. For more information about the primarily LGBT group, go to www.frontrunnersmke.com.

Death scene protocol

Democratic U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Milwaukee — working with leaders at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, Safe States Alliance, the Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin and other groups — drafted a bill to create national guidelines for investigations and autopsies after the death of an infant or child, or a stillbirth. “I find it shameful that America’s infant mortality rate rivals that of many developing countries,” Moore said. For more about the proposed Reducing Unexpected Deaths in Infant and Children Act, go to gwenmoore.house.gov.

College costs conversation

Milwaukee Area Technical College president Vicki Martin talks about a plan to offer free college educations to eligible students. She’ll present the plan at 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 24 at Marquette’s Eckstein Hall, 1215 W. Michigan St., Milwaukee.

Arriving author

On March 1, Boswell Book Company welcomes Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, as part of a highly anticipated program at the University School of Milwaukee’s Virginia Henes Young Theatre. Ung is the spokeswoman for Campaign for a Landmine-Free World. Angelina Jolie recently went to Cambodia to begin work on a film adaptation of Ung’s memoir. For more on author events, go to boswellbooks.com.

Banking for Bernie

Volunteers are gathering to staff phone banks for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. One phone bank will be 6–9 p.m. on Feb. 24 at the DPMC office, 900 S. Fifth St., Milwaukee. 

Networking and nourishment

North Shore Presbyterian Church, 4048 N. Bartlett Ave., Shorewood, is the site of the annual Grassroots North Shore Winter Chili Warmup that takes place at 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 28. Attendees can expect to hear from political candidates and vote for GNS leadership. For more, go to grassrootsnorthshore.com.

Economic uncertainty

John Nichols speaks about “Automation, Globalization and a Jobless Future?” at the Siena Retreat Center, 5635 Erie St., Racine, at 6:30 p.m. March 1. For more, go to milwaukeedems.org.

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Community briefs: Bernie’s bobble, mapping injustice, serving up volleyball

Bernie’s bobble?

The Milwaukee-based National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum launched a Kickstarter campaign to create a line of presidential candidate bobbleheads. The museum seeks to raise $10,000 through Feb. 29 for the campaign, which offers Kickstarter voters a chance to back their favorite bobble candidate: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, et al. For more, go to bobbleheadhall.com.

Mapping racial injustice

Elsa Noterman and Anders Zanichkowsky are a geographer and printmaker who created a series of large-scale, mixed-media “artist” maps responding to racial justice issues in Madison. “Free the 350” Decarceration Map is a woodcut that deals with the disproportionate rate of incarceration for people of color in Dane County jails. The artists’ work is supported by a Madison Arts Commission BLINK! Grant and is on display throughout February at the Central Library in Madison. For more, go to anderszanichkowsky.com.

Serve, set, spike

The Milwaukee Gay Volleyball Association is registering players for the 11-week season that begins in March. Games are played at Beulah Brinton Community Center, 2555 S. Bay St. Registration can be completed online at milwaukeegayvolleyball.com.

Winter in Washington Park

The day’s high of 32 degrees meant perfect weather for Urban Ecology Center’s eighth annual Winterfest, held on Jan. 23 in Milwaukee’s Washington Park. More than 800 people cross-country skied, snowshoed and engaged in other wintertime activities. UEC is “committed to fostering ecological understanding as inspiration for change, neighborhood by neighborhood.” For more, go to urbanecologycenter.org.

Milwaukee meetup on Black Lives Matter

Alverno College hosts a forum on racial disparity and the criminal justice system at 6 p.m. on Feb. 18 at the Sister Joel Read Conference Center. Panelists include Martha Barry of the YWCA Southeastern Wisconsin, the Rev. Willie E. Brisco of the Milwaukee Inner-City Congregation Allied for Hope, retired assistant Milwaukee Police Chief Edith Hudson and Reggie Jackson of the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation. For more, go to alverno.edu.

Wayfinding for 2-wheelers

Dane County Parks is collaborating with the Madison Area Transportation Planning Board to create a countywide Bicycle Wayfinding Manual to design and implement a uniform system. The county also is moving forward with plans to build the longest bicycle bridge in the state — the 2.5-mile Lower Yahara River Trail connecting Lake Farm County Park with McDaniel Park. For more, go to countyofdane.com.

Diverse & Resilient leaders

Diverse & Resilient named its 2016 LGBT leadership award winners. They include Brenda Coley, Bayard Rustin Award; Shannon Romero, Be YOU Youth Leadership Award; Broderick Pearson, Gary Hollander Adult Leadership Award; Irmine Reitl, LGBT Ally Award and the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center, Community Partner Award. The honors will be presented at an April 7 gala at the Marriott Downtown Milwaukee. For more, go to diverseandresilient.org.

September screenings

Save the dates: Sept. 22–Oct. 6. The Milwaukee Film Festival has set its calendar for the 2016 series of feature films, short programs, education screenings, post-film conversations and panel discussions. For more, go to mkefilm.org.

Corporate education

Some politicians and educators in Wisconsin recently celebrated National School Choice Week, but they may not have been schooled on the origins of the observance. It’s promoted by the State Policy Network and the American Legislative Exchange Council and fueled by right-wing funders such as David and Charles Koch, according to the progressive watchdog group Center for Media and Democracy. For more, go to prwatch.org.

Fair’s February gala

The Wisconsin LGBTQ Leadership Conference, presented by Fair Wisconsin and Diverse & Resilient, takes place Feb. 19–21 at the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee. The keynote speaker for this year’s gala dinner, at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 20, is Aisha Moodie-Mills. She’s president and CEO at the Victory Fund and Institute, host of the political-pop culture radio show Politini and a political commentator on MSNBC. For more, go to fairwisconsin.com.

GSAFE seeks executive director

GSAFE is looking for an executive director to start in July. The right person would implement the group’s next stage of organizational transformation around racial, trans and gender justice. The executive director would oversee statewide expansion and should have skill in resource development and facilitating organizational culture shift. To apply, send an application, resume and cover letter to EDHiring@gsafewi.org  Preference will be given to applications received by March 30. For more, go to gsafewi.org.

Party for good

Meet and support Milwaukee’s coolest nonprofits at the Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee Winter Social at 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 18 at The Wicked Hop’s Jackalope Lounj, 343 N. Broadway. For more, contact Jorna Taylor at 414-342-0883 or jornat@communitysharesmke.org.

Extra haul from expo

The seventh annual Well Expo at the Monona Terrace in Madison in mid-January brought 1,400 people together to talk about health and wellness. The event also resulted in the collection of more than 1,000 pounds of groceries for the River Food Pantry in Dane County. For more, go to wellexpomadison.com.

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New Year’s Eve Guide

Congratulations, reader! You’ve made another lap around the sun, and 2016 is on the horizon. Now the only big decision left to make this year is where and how you’re going to celebrate.

In the spirit of the tradition that unites every NYE party, we’ve compiled a countdown of our own, listing some of our best NYE recommendations. So if you’re overwhelmed by all the possibilities, take a deep breath, count to 10, and then count back down to zero with our help.

And if your New Year’s plans include more than a Champagne toast, don’t drink and drive. Instead, take advantage of the free NYE bus service in Milwaukee and Madison, running all night. For more information, call 414-344-6711 or visit ridemcts.com in Milwaukee or 608-266-4466 and cityofmadison.com/metro in Madison.

10 Milwaukee adventures

42 Lounge

Milwaukee gaming bar 42 Lounge will set its annual NYE bash in the world of Bioshock, with a masquerade ball taking place in the game franchise’s underwater city Rapture. But you don’t have to be a fan of that particular series to enjoy yourself — any fandom is fair game to dance the night away to tracks spun by DJs Shepard, Tony-Wan Kenobi and Tiny Bubbles. 8 p.m. at 326 E. Mason St. $5. 42lounge.com. 

Best Place

It’s exactly what it sounds like: the Best Place Formal Pajama Party. Show up in your fanciest suit and tie or cocktail dress, and switch into comfy ‘jamas at midnight and keep on partying. This year, the party will be held in the Historic Pabst Brewery’s Great Hall, so it’s going to be an even more memorable shindig than usual. 8 p.m. at 901 W. Juneau Ave. $5. bestplacemilwaukee.com.

Company Brewing

Brand-new brewpub Company Brewing is hosting a NYE Blowout and packing the place with some of Milwaukee’s best musical groups, including seven-woman vocal group Ruth B8r Ginsburg, indie rock band Sat. Nite Duets, and The Fatty Acids Family Band, a local supergroup Frankensteined out of members of the aforementioned Acids as well as members of Ruth B8r Ginsburg, New Age Narcissism and Mortgage Freeman. Bonus: The bar’ll serve food late and even give away free beer from 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. Doors open at 9 p.m. at 735 E. Center St. $10. companybrewing.com.

County Clare

County Clare dubs itself the most cozy and chill place to spend New Year’s Eve in Milwaukee, and it’s hard to argue. Between the secluded location, warm fireplaces, traditional Irish music by Ian Gould (who performs at 6 and 10 p.m.) and hearty menu options, you’ll have to make sure you aren’t so content you drift off. If you think that’s a risk, County Clare is also offering hotel packages starting at $190. At 1234 N. Astor St. No cover. countyclare-inn.com. 

Evolution MKE

If your favorite part of New Year’s Eve is watching that ball drop, Evolution MKE might be the place for you and your friends. The Ping-Pong bar still has tables available for its “NYE-volution” celebration, so if you can get at least nine friends on board, you can secure a reserved table, open bar and appetizer buffet for $50 each. 9 p.m. at 1023 N. Old World Third St. evolutionmke.com. 

Landmark Lanes

Bowl your way through the end of 2015 at Landmark, and not only can you stay later than usual, but you also get party favors, drink specials and a story to tell your jealous friends. At 2220 N. Farwell Ave. No cover. landmarklanes.com.

Mi.Key’s

Energy 106.9 sponsors this Cathedral Square party with Cousin Ed and DJ Ekin joined by DJ Bone White. The “Bombs, BBQ & Beers” joint will become a booze and beats, all-you-can-drink until 1 a.m. joint for this special night. 10 p.m. at 811 N. Jefferson St. $65. mikeysmilwaukee.com.

Nomad World Pub

This Brady Street hole-in-the-wall was the place where Milwaukee cover band 5 Card Studs first performed 20 years ago, and it’s where they’ll be celebrating two decades of Vegas-lounge-style entertainment. Besides an intimate show with a great band, Nomad will also have raffles and giveaways, along with the customary Champagne toast. 10 p.m. at 1401 E. Brady St. $30. nomadworldpub.com.

Safe House

No matter what time you show up at the Safe House, you’ll have a NYE countdown to join. The bar/restaurant will once again be holding its “Round the World” party, where the bar celebrates each successive midnight as the world spins Milwaukee closer and closer to 2016. This year’s event will be split, beginning early with a family-friendly gathering, before a “Shag-a-delic Dance Party” ($10 cover) begins at 8 p.m. The adult portion of the evening features open bar specials for short periods through the night. 11 a.m. at 779 N. Front St. safe-house.com.

Whiskey Bar

Whether or not you’re a whiskey aficionado, Whiskey Bar might just be the right spot for your New Year’s Eve celebration. Just remember to pick up your tickets early, so you get VIP access and a free coat check. 8 p.m. at 788 N. Jackson St. $25 advance, $35 at the door. whiskeybarmilwaukee.com.

9 Madison hotspots

Alchemy Cafe

Radio station WORT’s annual Nasty New Year’s Eve benefit returns to Alchemy Cafe this year, bringing supporters together to ring in the new year with the help of seven-piece funk band The Mustache. 11:30 p.m. at 1980 Atwood Ave. $10. alchemycafe.net.

Cardinal Bar

Salsa fans know Cardinal Bar is the place to stylishly kick up your heels. On New Year’s Eve, party with DJ Chamo Candela, who will bring his Venezuelan heritage and taste for Latin music to the dance floor from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. 418 E. Wilson St. $12. cardinalbar.com.

DLUX 

Gourmet burger joint DLUX celebrates in style on New Year’s Eve. An $85 admission provides access to a premium open bar starting at 9:30 p.m., hors d’oeuvres at 11 p.m. and midnight champagne toast, all to the sounds of DJ Eugene’s Rocking Beats. The full kitchen stays open until midnight. 117 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
dluxmadison.com.

Essen Haus / Come Back In

Once again, adjoining bars Essen Haus and Come Back In join forces to produce a NYE party with double the food, double the bands and at least double the fun. The all-inclusive “extravaganza” will feature buffets that swap out food throughout the evening, from appetizers to dinner to second-dinner, as well as polka act The David Austin Band at Essen Haus and classic rock band Live at Nine at Come Back In. Festivities start at 6 p.m., while bands arrive at 9 p.m. At 514 E. Wilson St., Madison. Tickets are $70 before Dec. 23, $75 after. essen-haus.com.

The Frequency

This year’s NYE Bash at The Frequency is a little more devilish than usual — thanks to headliners Devil to Drag. The local alt-rock group, defining themselves as “glamour meets demon rock” will perform a set leading up to the big ball drop, with opening acts including garage soul band Cowboy Winter. 9 p.m. at 121 W. Main St., Madison. $10. madisonfrequency.com.

Gib’s

Gib’s is the ultimate Madison hole-in-the-wall: a classy cocktail bar concealed in a nondescript Willy Street home. This New Year’s Eve, though, they’re willing to shine bright with their Gold Party, featuring music, complementary Champagne punch and hors d’oeuvres, glitter bottle service and gourmet grilled cheese from Melted food cart. Cover is $15, or $10 if you’re wearing gold, and 30 percent of that goes to support nonprofit movement Dressember’s efforts to end human trafficking. 8 p.m. at 1380 Williamson St. gibs.bar. 

High Noon Saloon

It’s a night of cover bands at the High Noon Saloon, with local Madison acts taking on new monikers and covering the work of famous artists. For example: Funky alt-rock group The Earthlings will perform music by The Smashing Pumpkins as “The Smashing Pumpklings,” while musicians from Meghan Rose and the Bones, The Mascot Theory and Deuce Bag will perform the music of Wilco as “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Hotel.” Hors d’oeuvres and a midnight champagne toast included. At 8 p.m. at 701A E. Washington Ave. $10. high-noon.com.

Robinia Courtyard

This fall, coffee bar A-OK, wine bar Barolo, and Southern-style restaurant Julep quietly opened their doors in the new development known as Robinia Courtyard. But the triple threat won’t be staying quiet much longer. Their inaugural New Year’s Eve party will be spread among all three venues and the shared courtyard, with food from each of the restaurants’ menus, four different music options and gift bags that might include a lucky golden ticket. 8 p.m. at 829 E. Washington Ave., Madison. $65. 

Woof’s

This popular downtown gay bar plans to rock out 2015 with “Ascension,” a New Year’s Eve Black Party — think masks and dark house music. Go deep and dark with DJ John Murges all night long until the 5 a.m. breakfast buffet. 114 King St. No cover charge. madwoofs.com.

8 dance parties

Club Icon NYE Party

Kenosha’s premier gay bar and club will get extra festive for its annual New Year’s Eve party, stocking up with a buffet, door prizes and a champagne toast to cheer the departing year. General admission is $15, while a $55 VIP package adds an open bar until 12:30 a.m. At 6305 120th Ave., Kenosha. club-icon.com.

DECADANCE

Dance in the new year at the Majestic annual NYE celebration. The theater itself is a vaudeville house-turned-concert venue, and DJs Nick Nice and Mike Carlson will mirror that evolution by spinning 100 years of music from the 1920s through the 2010s. From Louis Armstrong to Daft Punk, the later the evening goes, the newer the music gets. 8 p.m. at 115 King St. $20. majesticmadison.com.

The Get Down

It’s the longest-running dance party in Milwaukee, so perhaps you’ve already attended this annual funk and soul celebration at Turner Hall Ballroom. If you haven’t, consider making this the year for this all-inclusive event, where real 45s will form the soundtrack to the last hours of 2015. For $60, you get the regular all-inclusive package, with an open bar, champagne toast and an ice bar/luge. VIP guests get to skip the line and grab food at an exclusive buffet on the VIP balcony, for $85. 9 p.m. at 1040 N. Fourth St.
pabsttheater.org.

Iron Horse’s Sweet NYE 2016

If you’re looking for a more stylish dance party, look no further than The Iron Horse Hotel. The venue’s “Sweet NYE 2016” bash will open the hotel’s doors to any and everybody, with DJ Fred X presiding over the evening and hotel packages available if you want to make a weekend out of your celebrations. 7 p.m. at 500 W. Florida St., Milwaukee. No cover. theironhorsehotel.com.

Jazzin’ Up The Joint

Don’t be fooled by the title of this party at Capitol City hotspot Madison’s. Every track’ll originate from a lot closer in time to 2020 than 1920, even if the dance party, hosted by DJ Brook, is a little more sophisticated than usual. 9 p.m. at 119 King St., Madison. $20. 

NYE Retro Dance Party

Lots of these NYE dance parties will be spinning the best tunes of the year, but if you want the best tunes of yesteryear, there’s no place like Mad Planet. Its weekly Friday night dance parties are just practice for this year-ending bash. 9 p.m. at 533 E. Center St. $15 cover. madplanet.net

Oak NYE 2016

Oak Lounge prides itself on offering a big-city nightclub experience, and it’s that sort of aesthetic that can make NYE great. The club’s year-end festivities will be curated by Chicago DJ Willy Joy. 8 p.m. at 231 E. Buffalo St., Milwaukee. $25.
oakmilwaukee.com

Plan B

It’s considered Madison’s hottest dance club, and New Year’s Eve is the time for Plan B to prove it. Hours of dancing at this Willy Street bar will be topped off by a late-night buffet, though you’ll have to pull yourself off the floor to find it. At 924 Williamson St., Madison. Cover TBA.
planbmadison.com.

7 arts events

‘Ball Drop Blitz 2’

On Dec. 30, actors, directors and writers from Madison theatre troupes Mercury Players, OUT!Cast Productions and KnowBetter Productions will pick each others’ names out of a hat. As teams, they have the next 24 hours to create the last theatrical mayhem and magic of 2015. Catch it at 8 p.m. at the Bartell Theatre, 113 E. Mifflin St. $20. bartelltheatre.org.

‘A Blast from the Brass’

Sunset Playhouse is best known for its stage productions, but for New Year’s Eve, it’s going for something a bit more orchestral. BtW, an 11-piece show band, will perform music by revolutionary artists of the ‘60s and ‘70s like Chicago, Van Morrison and Blood, Sweat & Tears, with a particular emphasis on the force of their brass and percussion sections. A raffle and champagne toast will follow the show. 9 p.m. at 800 Elm Grove Rd, Elm Grove. $45.
sunsetplayhouse.com.

ComedySportz

All-you-can-drink Champagne and all-you-can-eat hors d’oeurves are just a trick to get you in the door of ComedySportz for New Year’s Eve. After that, you’re trapped — enjoying some of the company’s best improv comics as they say goodbye to 2015 with whatever they can think of off the top of their heads. Luckily, that’s their speciality. Two consecutive shows, at 8 and 10:30 p.m., will conclude with a NYE countdown; after the real one, ComedySportz’s bar will stay open until you’re ready to face 2016 and head home. At 420 S. First St., Milwaukee. $35, reservations recommended.
comedysportzmilwaukee.com.

‘A Funny Thing Happened on
the Way to the Forum’

True, a Roman New Year’s Eve would have been March 31, but Dale Gutzman and Off the Wall Theatre won’t make you wait three months to see their final production of Sondheim’s Forum. This rousing musical sendup of ancient Roman farces is a particularly good way to send off 2015, but get your tickets fast — space in this jewelbox theater always goes fast. 7:30 p.m. at 127 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. $45. offthewalltheatre.com.

Milwaukee Comedy Cafe

Wisconsin native Shane Mauss is home for the holidays, and celebrating a successful year that included the release of his new comedy album, My Big Break. He’ll be doing so in a new location, though, as this year also marked the Milwaukee Comedy Cafe’s migration to a second-floor loft space at 1033 N. Old World Third Street, Milwaukee. Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. show are $15, $20 for preferred seating; 10:15 p.m. seats are $20, $25 preferred, and come with a Champagne toast. milwaukeescomedycafe.com.

‘Ring in the New’

After a year filled with rock ’n’ roll from the ‘50s and ‘70s and classic works of theater including The Wizard of Oz and West Side Story, the Fireside Theater is taking everything and throwing it into a blender for the 2016 edition of their Ring in the New revue. An original production, the show mixes songs old and new along with a few New Year’s surprises to keep frequent visitors guessing. The company will perform both a matinee at noon and an evening show at 6 p.m., which is followed by a New Year’s Eve party. At 1131 Janesville Ave., Fort Atkinson. firesidetheatre.com.

Splash Studio’s Silver and Gold NYE

Looking for more creative New Year’s Eve options? Consider dropping into Splash, the Milwaukee painting bar, for an evening in which you’ll recreate “Titanium,” one of the bar’s signature paintings. This tissue paper and gold and silver paint-constructed work won’t be the only thing that glitters — visitors can also look forward to gold-rimmed cocktails, party favors, a dessert bar, and a balloon drop at the end of the night. At 184 N. Broadway. $65 admission.
splashmilwaukee.com.

6 sparkling wines

Classic Champagne

Toast the New Year in regal style with Pol Roger Brut Reserve “White Foil” Champagne ($54), a favorite of Winston Churchill and England’s current royal family. The wine pours a pale gold with delicate bubbles and light, toasty aroma, delivering a creamy palate with complex fruit and a harmonious finish.

Italian innovation

Italy weighs in with Ca’ del Bosco Cuvée Prestige Brut Franciacorta DOCG ($41), an impressive new entry wrapped in amber cellophane said to block UV rays from prematurely aging the wine. The exuberant golden wine offers a nose of apple, pear and honey, leading to a brightly balanced palate that finishes with a touch of almond on the tongue.

German bubbly

A delicate palate and fine sparkle pour from the bottle of Henkell Blanc de Blancs ($13), Germany’s favorite effervescent wine. Balanced and boasting a vibrant bouquet, the wine pours golden with a greenish cast, offering fragrant fruit on both the nose and palate.

Spanish value

Spain is the source of some fine, inexpensive sparkling wines, and Mas fi Cava Brut NV ($10) is one of its best. Made in almost equal parts from native xarel-lo, macabeo and parellada grape varieties, the wine boasts a light effervescence and a floral-citrus nose, delivering flavors of stone fruits and a creamy texture to your palate.

California chardonnay

Chardonnay makes up the lion’s share of Piper Sonoma Blanc de Blancs ($15), another “white of whites” from California’s Sonoma Valley. The dry, full-bodied sparkler offers a memorable collection of tastes, textures and aromas that ultimately satisfy.

Korbel variation

Korbel may make Wisconsin’s favorite brandy, but the Sonoma County winery also creates one of the country’s favorite domestic sparkling wines: Korbel Natural ($17). Produced in a “fruit-forward” style from a blend of Russian River Valley pinot noir and chardonnay grapes, Natural offers a refined collision of apple, citrus and raspberry aromas and flavors designed to put the sparkle into every holiday gathering.

5 family ideas

Harlem Globetrotters

The Harlem Globetrotters are currently celebrating their 90th anniversary, so what better time to catch their traditional NYE appearance at the BMO Harris Bradley Center? In what must truly be seen to be believed, these basketball acrobats will show off their one-of-a-kind skills on the court. 1 and 6 p.m. at 1001 N. Fourth St., Milwaukee. $21 to $137.
bmoharrisbradleycenter.com.

Ice Skating at Red Arrow Park

As long as El Niño doesn’t keep temperatures from dipping below freezing, a trip to this ice skating rink is the perfect New Year’s Eve outing for families. And, on Dec. 31, the rink is open extra late, meaning if you’d rather spend midnight circling the ice, you can do so up until 1 a.m. At 920 N. Water St., Milwaukee. Skate rentals are $8 for adults, $7 for kids 17 and under. county.milwaukee.gov.

Madison Children’s Museum Dance Party

Teach your kids how to rule a rave early at the MCM’s New Year’s Eve Dance Party. They may not be able to stay up until midnight yet, but they’ll certainly enjoy the glow bracelets, sparkling juice and confetti-filled dance floor at this event. 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. at 100 N. Hamilton St. $8 admission.
madisonchildrensmuseum.org.

Mitchell Park Domes

The weather outside is probably going to be frightful, but in the Domes, it’s always delightful. This annual fundraiser for the Mitchell Park Conservatory is bigger than ever, with a DJ dance party in the Conservatory annex joining live music by the Garlic Mustard Pickers, a magician, arts and crafts for kids and a stylish light show to close out the evening. 6 to 9 p.m. at 524 S. Layton Blvd., Milwaukee. $15 admission, $5 for kids 3 to 17.
milwaukeedomes.org.

Noon Year’s Eve

When the clock strikes 12, it’s the new year, right? That’s what you should tell the kids when you drop in for the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum’s daytime NYE bash. Families can celebrate by making party hats and other festive goodies, and count down to the big ball drop and juice toast at 12 sharp. 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at 929 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. $8 admission. bbcmkids.org.

4 fancy shindigs

Blu Milwaukee

If you’d rather feel like a king or queen overseeing your domain on New Year’s Eve, the only place to be is Blu, the Pfister Hotel’s 23rd-floor lounge. Its “Window to the World” party will offer Champagne, desserts and cheeses and a performance by Janet O’Mahony. 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. at 424 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee. Packages are $300 to $500. blumilwaukee.com.

The Edgewater Hotel Gravity Ball

Funkmasters Bumpus and dance band The Hot Sauce Committee help revelers ring in the New Year at Madison’s dramatically renovated lakeside hotel with multiple levels and environments. $95 buys you access to two party locations, three drink tickets, appetizers, party favors and a Champagne toast at midnight. 9 p.m. at 1001 Wisconsin Place. theedgewater.com.

Ivory Room Midnight Masquerade

If your ideal NYE comes with a dose of ivory tickling, grab a mask and head over to the Ivory Room. $90 gets you in for an open bar and the dueling piano show you love, performed by Josh Dupont and Peter Hernet. If you’ve got the best mask, you might even pick up a $200 Noble Chef gift card. 8 p.m. at 116 W. Mifflin St., Madison. ivoryroompianobar.com.

Milwaukee Athletic Club’s Brew Year’s Eve

It’s hard to find a NYE experience that offers more than Brew Year’s Eve: five hours of open bar, complementary appetizers and champagne, two floors of music from indie classical band I’m Not A Pilot and DJs Mighty Thor and Tyler Curran, lots of dance space, entry to afterparties at Oak Lounge and Dick’s, and even free shuttles from Bay View and Wauwatosa and hotel discounts. You’ll pay for the privilege — $99 individually, or $179 for couples — but if bar hopping isn’t in your game plan, this price might be right. At the Milwaukee Athletic Club, 758 N. Broadway. brewyearsevemke.com.

3 delicious dinners

Graze and L’Etoile

Side-by-side restaurants L’Etoile and Graze will both offer prix fixe dinners under the direction of James Beard Foundation award-winning chef Tory Miller. L’Etoile (French for “The Star”) is serving a five-course dinner for $110 with course-by-course wine pairings for an additional $65. The more casual Graze has a three-course dinner priced at $65 with an additional $25 for wine pairings with each course. 1 S. Pinckney St., Madison. letoile-restaurant.com and
grazemadison.com.

The Icon

Look for a special New Year’s Eve menu and cocktails at The Icon Restaurant and Tapas Bar. Executive chef Omar Falcon will take the Spanish tapas menu in new directions on Dec. 31, along with bright Champagne cocktails, live entertainment and a free taste of the bubbly at midnight. 206 State St., Madison.
theiconmadison.com.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Dinner in the heart of MAM’s winged Calatrava expansion? It’s a no-brainer. MAM will be saying farewell to 2015 with a three-course dinner prepared by new executive chef Jason Gorman, followed by the dance-friendly melodies and rhythms of local big band Swing Nouveau. Plates are $195 per person, $175 for museum members. 700 N. Art Museum Dr. mam.org.

2 comedians

Brooks Whelan

Brooks Whelan was one of the many cast members hired-then-fired from Saturday Night Live during its tumultuous 2013–14 season, but the show’s loss is your gain. He used the material and experiences gained in that year as fodder for his debut comedy album, This is Cool, Right? — recorded right here at Madison’s Comedy Club on State. He’ll return there for three sets New Year’s Eve, and it will, in fact, be cool. 5:30, 8 and 10:30 p.m. at 202 State St. Tickets are $20, $30 and $40, respectively.
madisoncomedy.com. 

Jim Gaffigan

If you’re still trying to figure out where to go this New Year’s Eve, consider going where Jim Gaffigan always goes — the Pabst Theater. Gaffigan has been performing a de facto NYE residency in Milwaukee for almost a decade, and you don’t go the same place year after year unless it’s a really good gig. Gaffigan’s NYE show is at 10:30 p.m. at 144 E. Wells St.; two other shows are scheduled for 7 p.m. Dec. 29 and 30. Tickets are $85 or $55, with VIP packages $150. pabsttheater.org. 

1 chilly resolution for 2016

Plunging for a good cause

We know you’re going to break your actual resolution by Jan. 12, so funnel all that positive thinking into something more altruistic — like jumping into really cold water. Polar bear plunges have become a New Year’s Day tradition across the country, a way to start the new year fresh with a slap of cold water right to the face.

But this year, consider a plunge that doubles as a fundraiser for a charitable cause. In Milwaukee, your best bet is the Polar Bear Dash, a 5k run starting in Grant Park in South Milwaukee and heading to a dip in Lake Michigan. The Dash supports the Wisconsin chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Registration is $30 online through Dec. 29 and $35 on race day.
polarbeardash.com.

Already have New Year’s Day brunch plans or are worried about that hangover? Then at least make Jan. 1 the day you start raising funds for a different plunge. A statewide Polar Plunge campaign supporting Special Olympics Wisconsin will host frigid jumps in 14 locations this year, from Jan. 30 to March 5, which means there’s at least one in your neck of the woods. Planned jumps include Green Bay, Jan. 30; Kenosha, Feb. 6; Madison, Feb. 13; Milwaukee, Feb. 20; Wausau, Feb. 27; and LaCrosse, March 5. polarplungewi.org.

How to make Madison your winter wonderland

As a day-trip or “staycation,” Wisconsin’s capital city rocks the holidays — and all winter, for that matter. Madison’s four lakes and isthmus offer opportunities for festive outings, adventure, renewal and more.

Through the holidays, a 40-foot Balsam fir tree in the Capitol rotunda serves as the centerpiece for the city and state’s winter celebrations. Towering over visitors, it’s trimmed with ornaments made by Wisconsin school children. 

This year’s tree was donated by Rhinelander resident Brad Kowieski and his family. When he was in fourth grade, Kowieski planted it at his parents’ nearby house, on Arbor Day 1985. This year’s decoration theme is Wisconsin sports. 

The Capitol’s dome is more than 200 feet tall, only 3 feet shorter than that of the U.S. Capitol. Free tours are available, including the sixth-floor outdoor observatory deck, offering stunning views of the city and Lakes Monona and Mendota, havens for snowshoeing, ice fishing and cross-country skiing.

The Aldo Leopold Nature Center, just east of Lake Monona, will hold a Winter Solstice Celebration from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Dec. 18. Solstice traditions from around the world will be explored on the longest night of the year, during a winter hike under the stars. Snacks, cocoa and a Yule fire will be featured. Admission is $8 apiece or $29 per family, with discounted tickets for Nature Center members $7, or $25 per family. 

From 4:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 16, the center hosts a free Candlelight Snowshoe Hike. Enjoy the soft glow of more than 1,000 candles as you explore the extensive grounds. Afterward, enjoy a roaring bonfire, hot chocolate and popcorn. A free shuttle bus to the center, at 330 Femrite Drive, is available. For more information call the City of Monona parks and recreation office, 608-222-4167, or visit aldoleopoldnaturecenter.org.

The Holiday Express at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, 3330 Atwood Ave., features large-scale model trains winding through a holiday scene overflowing with hundreds of poinsettias, fresh evergreens, and complex Lego constructions, through Dec. 31. Members of the Wisconsin Garden Railway Society come from all over the state to show off their best. You may see a bullet train, steam train, Santa train, circus train, or freight train, depending on the day. 

The intricate trackside models are constructed by members of the Wisconsin Lego Users Group, a volunteer group of Lego fans who build and share their creations with audiences across southern and central Wisconsin. Admission is $5 for ages 13 and up, $3 for children ages 3 to 12 and free for children 2 and under, and for members of Olbrich Botanical Gardens. 

Or escape to the tropics at Olbrich’s conservatory. Its sunny, 50-foot glass pyramid shelters a sultry collection of more than 650 plants, native to tropical and sub-tropical regions throughout the world. Enjoy a rushing waterfall, bamboo arbors, koi, canaries, orange-cheeked waxbills, diamond doves and common and button quail. The conservatory’s Orchid Aerie features an ever-changing display of blooming orchids. For more Olbrich information, call 608-246-4550 or visit olbrich.org.

The Hoofers Outing Club at the University of Wisconsin-Madison will hold its annual Winter Carnival Feb. 2-8. The huge annual event includes horse-drawn campus carriage rides, snowshoeing, a snowboard and skiing rail jam, skating, hockey, a bonfire on Picnic Point and much more. For information, visit hoofers.org.

It’s kites! It’s skiing! It’s kite-skiing! Think of it as water skiing but on ice — with a massive sky-borne sail instead of a speedboat. And speed is the word; it’s common to go 60 mph and make 20-foot-high jumps on frozen Lake Mendota. Kites, helmets and instructors are available at Outdoor UW, in the campus’ Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St. For information, call 608-262-1630.

How about a sledding hill next to the Capitol? Madison’s Winter Festival is Feb. 13-14. The streets around the Capitol Square will play host to ice sculpting and snow carving exhibitions, a winter village, cross-country ski racing, a fun run and more. Highlights include the first-ever U.S. Fat Bike Criterium National Championships and the Madison Adaptive Winter games, featuring a Paralympic biathlon, curling and sledge hockey. There are also special activities at the Madison Children’s Museum, Wisconsin Historical Society Museum and the Overture Center for the Arts. For more information visit winter-fest.com.

Just want to pamper yourself without any of this winter fuss? Drop in for Madison Hotel Week, Feb. 12-21. It’s your chance to take advantage of discounted rates while experiencing all Madison has to offer. Participating hotels discount their rooms $75, $100 or $125 per night. For information go to visitmadison.com/mhw/hotels.