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Winnebago Co. Sheriff’s offer safe rides home on Blackout Wednesday

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 6:08 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Local bars spend a lot of time preparing for the day before Thanksgiving, often called Blackout Wednesday. J&K bar owner Ky Rankin says, “We’re just re-arranging the tables for tonight to help get set up and after that’s done we’re staying open until 2 a.m.:

It’s a phrase that describes the onslaught of customers many bars see on Thanksgiving eve. That’s why the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office offers a safe ride home program.

Sheriff Gary Caruana says, “Ask for ride home and that’s what we’ll do. We’re not going to being you to another bar, we’re not going bar to bar. We’re gonna give you a ride home in an effort to keep you safe.”

The safe ride home program started a couple of years ago and coordinators say it’s likely saved many lives. “New Year’s Eve is traditionally known as a big drinking night but eh not so much because of the awareness but tonight is the night people party down,” Caruana says.

Bar owners say most of their customers are responsible drinkers and believe this year could be super busy as people want to make up for last year’s stay-at-home requests.

Rankin says, “I think it’s a great idea for local police to come and you know that way they’re not going to come to pick them up and take them to jail, they are going to pick them up and take them home.”

Sheriff Gary Caruana says the ride involves no judgment from law enforcement he says, “If they’re intoxicated we don’t care we don’t want them behind the wheel because when they get behind the wheel bad things happen.”

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