The teetotalers are trying to revive a booze-free New Year's with First Night down at Onondaga Lake Park this year. OK, you can cram the kiddies into the family van and dig the sounds of the Todd Hobin Band and pop singer Sean Kingston while gawking at Lights on the Lake for the umpteenth time.
Meanwhile, those of us who fully embrace Syracuse's blue-collar brewery roots and barleycorn tastes will be high-fiving friends and bussing strange babes at any number of New Year's nightspots.
They do things right at the world-famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and that place'll be packed again Friday night as jubilant jam band Turnip Stampede rocks the house and the kitchen serves up free plates of red beans and rice at the stroke of midnight to be washed down with a flute of champagne.
Why red beans?
In a word, legumes are lucky.
For 150 years Southerners have celebrated the New Year by consuming black-eyed peas cooked along with hog jowls or ham. This dish, called "hoppin' john," is routinely served with a side of collard greens. Black-eyed peas and other legumes including red beans, black beans, lentils and garbanzo beans, are considered good luck in many cultures.
While the round black-eyed peas resemble silver coins, and red beans look like copper coins, the greens resemble paper money. Eating these foods on the year's first day should assure that your pockets overflow with cash throughout the next 12 months.
The well-fed hog, and its meat, is also considered lucky because it symbolizes prosperity. It's a bonus that the greasy meat also makes the beans taste really good!
While sympathetic magic deems beans lucky, nutritionists say they're truly good for you. Legumes are invariably high in protein and fiber and low in fat.
Back on the Bar-B-Que bandstand, Turnip Stampede will invoke musical magic to keep the dance floor grooving. One of CNY's most creative bands, TS features rhythm guitarist John McConnell, bassist Max McKee, lead guitarist Adam Fisher and drummer Kinyatta King. Jazz keyboardist Dave Solazzo joins the combo Friday and will be along for the ride when the Stampede plays New Year's Day night at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Rochester.