One of the busiest bar nights of the year is also one of the most dangerous nights on the road
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind. --The night before Thanksgiving has become colloquially referred to as "Blackout Wednesday, "Black Wednesday," and even "Drinksgiving."
"Everybody comes out to the bars, it's a good time," said Dawn Cheek, co-owner of That Place Bar & Grill. "They're all families enjoying each other, spending quality time together."
The owners of That Place say their local Mishawaka dive always draws a crowd the day before Turkey Day.
"It's busy, everybody's upbeat, happy," Cheek said. "We get a lot of locals here, so Thanksgiving, we get other people in here. It's nice to see new faces."
"Blackout Wednesday" being one of the biggest drinking nights of the year also means it's one of the deadliest nights to be on the road.
AAA estimates 56 million Hoosiers are driving to get to holiday celebrations this weekend, some of which could be making the overnight haul.
Indiana State Police (ISP) say fatal crashes and dangerous driving are up in the state, that's why troopers and officers in South Bend are ramping up patrols starting tonight.
Last year, ISP said 12 crashes turned deadly over Thanksgiving weekend.
South Bend police say they have enough staff to up patrols slightly Wednesday night, making sure everyone gets home safe.
"Be careful out there," said Sgt. Daniel Demlar, a patrol supervisor with the South Bend Police Department. "I know everyone's coming home from college and families are coming into town. They're going out, they're visiting the bars, getting together. But it's really easy to get carried away and have things just sneak up on you. We just want everybody to be safe. We have Uber drivers, you've got cabs, all sorts of ways to play it safe, designated drivers. We just want to see everybody get home safe, that way they can enjoy their family for the holiday."
Whether going out Wednesday or enjoying a few drinks over a Thanksgiving feast, make sure to have a designated driver or call a ride home.
Officers will be on patrol for impaired driving this weekend.