Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Where We Spent New Year’s Eve

dancing at the idora ballroom

Dancing at the Idora Ballroom, Source Unknown

This is a crowd-sourced post. You see, I just don’t have very colorful stories about where I spent New Year’s Eve. Most years, it was with my family and relatives at our home. Lots of food, “mature” beverages for the adults that we usually got at least a sip of (!), and Guy Lombardo on the TV. I remember a college party at a friend’s house where a number of us from our youth group spent the evening playing games, eating pizza, and just hanging out.

It struck me that others of you might have memories of other places, and so I put out a comment in some different Youngstown Facebook groups, and sure enough, you reminded me of all the great places people celebrated New Years Eve. Surprisingly, there were a number of you like me who celebrated with family at home–lots of good food, cards, drinks, laughter, and ringing in the new year.

Probably the classiest were the dances at Stambaugh Auditorium’s ballroom and, in its day, the Idora Park Ballroom. Someone said that during the ’70’s the best New Year’s Eve was out at Yankee Lake. For others, it was a dinner and dance at one of the local ethnic social halls like the old Italian American on South Meridian Road or the Saxon Club. Some of these are still going strong. “Pudge” posted: “Aut Mori Grotto on Belle Vista ave, 30 bucks a couple, food, music, dancing, 50/50, grotto milk, byob, open to the public.” (I’d confirm before you go.)

A number of parishes had, and still have, New Year’s Eve dinners and dances. St. Stanislaus has an early mass followed by sauerkraut dinner, dance, champagne toast (and home by ten, according to the person posting this. Others mentioned St. Mary’s on South Belle Vista, and St Brendans. I’ll bet there were a number of other parishes that did the same thing.

Some people went out to restaurants, or cafes, or bars on New Year’s Eve. On the classier end, there were places like the Living Room, the Colonial House, and the Brown Derby in its heyday. Ambrosio’s on the North side in the ’70s would have fancy parties that included a breakfast. Others mentioned the Sunnyside Cafe, the Youngstown Club, Rip’s Cafe in Struthers, and the Motor Bar. I suspect there were places all over town like this.

Holiday Bowl and the Wedgewood Lanes combined music, dancing, and bowling that could be fun for the whole family. One person wrote about being at the Holiday Bowl when she was 21, dancing and listening to the Ramsey Lewis Trio. It was fun to learn that both of these places are still in business, but I could not find out what their New Year’s Eve plans were for this year.

It has been a growing trend for hotels to offer New Year’s Eve packages with dinner, dancing, drinks, and a hotel room so you wouldn’t have to go out on the road after all that partying. The Holiday Inn on South Avenue in Boardman is one of the places that would offer such packages.

In recent years, many more cities including Youngstown have been offering First Night programs, usually downtown with a schedule of activities at various venues for the whole family. Here’s a schedule of events for this year.

I’d love to hear how you remember celebrating New Year’s Eve in Youngstown. And however you celebrate, stay safe and be safe for others so that we can keep the conversation going in 2018!

3 thoughts on “Growing Up in Working Class Youngstown — Where We Spent New Year’s Eve

  1. I remember one New Years Eve party with my future hubby, sister with her date, and our parents at Saint John the Baptist in Campbell. It was lots of fun dancing to the music of the 70s, and also watching my mom and dad dancing the polka together.

    My husband was in a few area bands, and played at Mr. Anthony’s and various clubs in the Youngstown area on New Years Eve. It was always a fun night out! But to tell you the truth, our quiet celebrations now are the best:-)

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