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Northeast Wisconsin's local news coverage.

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    APPLETON, WI (WTAQ) - Everyone tends to have a New Year's resolution this time of year and it turns out you can help the Appleton Police Department achieve theirs.

    The department is looking to further their mission of "excellence in police service" and to do so they're asking the community to let them know their priorities and concerns.

    This can be easily completed through the "focus" survey the department has set up. 

    Officer Meghan Cash with Appleton Police gives an example of a concern that you could tell them about.

    "Somebody has a neighborhood issue with speeding on a certain street," she explains. "Maybe our officers haven't had the time to get out there."

    Officer Cash says the survey will ask individuals some general questions to gauge their priority levels on a number of different issues.

    "There's also an option for people to let us know if there's a specific area or specific idea they have for us," she says.

    Those specific concerns can be manifested in a number of different ways, such as police visibility. 

    "A certain area in the city that people are saying, 'Hey, you guys used to be here and now we're not seeing you as much,'" she says.

    The broader purpose of the survey is to bring guided community feedback to the police force in order for them to better establish and achieve goals in 2019.

    "Policing isn't something done to a community, it is something we do with the community, and we do it better together," says Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas.

    This specific effort is being done to help the department as they head into the new year, but they say the opportunity to voice concerns is always available.

    "Even when the surveys not available, via our Facebook page, [or] any of our social media, Instagram, Twitter, say 'Hey, this is something I think you guys need to work on,'" says Officer Cash. "We're always open to that."

    A link to the survey can be found here.


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  • 12/27/18--15:38: Online Gaming Concerns
  • DE PERE, WI (WTAQ) - Officials are urging parents to keep a watchful eye if their children opened up a new video game or a gaming system on Christmas.

    The concern with popular games, such as Fortnite, is not necessarily about the game itself, but rather about the people that a child might be introduced to. 

    That's because games are increasingly featuring online formats in which individuals are given the opportunity to play online with strangers.

    This type of component can turn into a breeding ground for predators according to law enforcement.

    De Pere Police Officer Jed Bradley says these individuals are always looking for new opportunities.

    "It's a full-time job for them," says Officer Bradley, about online predators. "This is what they do."

    This type of issue has already been identified by law enforcement and bis serious enough that they've taken action.

    "I mean it's a concern that we have an active countywide task force that does a great job trying to cut that off before it reaches our children," explains Officer Bradley.

    Five-percent of online predators will pretend they're kids and in most cases, they'll reveal they're older, according to the United States Department of Justice.

    Also, the age group most targeted is teenagers ages 12-15.

    "The best patrol that law enforcement can give is it starts at home with the parenting," says Officer Bradley.

    The message that the effort starts at home is agreed upon not only by law enforcement, but also by the individuals that might have sold you the newest video game or gaming system this Christmas season.

    "I think it's all about educating yourself, especially with a game like Fortnite," says Gregg Johnson, the owner of Game Trade, in De Pere. "Watch them play for a little bit and see what's going on, you can also get an idea of how they interact and if you don't like the way they are interacting or how people are interacting with them then you can control that."

    Parental controls are far from perfect for games like this, but there are some tools parents can equip themselves with.

    "They do have settings like time limits and other things that parents can incorporate to help with that," explains Johnson.

    If you do find that your child has had an inappropriate conversation with someone online contact police immediately.

    It's also a good idea to take a screenshot and save all forms of communication in such a case.


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  • 12/27/18--16:10: Ice is on the Move
  • HARRISON, WI (WTAQ) - Mild temperatures, strong winds, and rain gusts all joined forces to move around the ice on Lake Winnebago.

    That means the conversation has now shifted from thin ice to ice on the shoreline, as was the case around Lake Winnebago on Thursday. 

    The northern shoreline near Harrison was one affected area.

    "We only have about three inches of ice out there. and the wind blows this hard, it will start to move the lake around, if there's open water, which there is," says Dan Laeyendecker of Harrison.

    He discovered ice shoves outside his home early Thursday morning.

    But it wasn't just the northern shoreline where this happened, because it was a similar scene on the western shoreline near Oshkosh. 

    "You might have ice shoves this high, coming up 10-20 feet on that west side of the lake," says Bill Lodi, Rippn-Lips Tackle Company Owner.

    He says the main contributing factor of the ice shoves was strong winds out of the southeast.

    In addition to the strong wind, Lodi believes rain played an important factor as well.

    "You get all these little creeks, that flow into the lake, and what that does is creates runoff from a lot of the farms that are on this side of the lake," he explains. "By the time this stuff gets to the middle of the lake, the lake can be churned up, and it can get pretty dirty."

    Following the ice movement, concerns are now being shifted to the impact on fishing, such as the upcoming sturgeon spearing season in six weeks.

    "We're hoping that a lot of that sediment settles down before sturgeon spearing," says Lodi. "And the water clarity will be better than we had previous years."

    For the individuals that have long lived on Lake Winnebago though, Thursday was nothing out of the ordinary.

    "This is part of the deal," explains Laeyendecker. "But the good outweighs the bad, so you just have to deal with it."

    No ice is ever considered 100 percent safe by authorities and it will take many days with single-digit or below-zero temperatures before conditions improve.


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    KAUKAUNA, WI (WTAQ) - The floor collapsing in a Kaukauna house fire Thursday morning has left one person homeless.

    The home is on the 300 block of West 10th Street and fire officials say around 11:30 a.m. a fire started in a closet on the first floor of the home.

    Crews saw smoke coming from both floors of the two-story home when they arrived at the scene and they put out fires on both floors and the attic.

    The homeowner wasn't there when the fire started and no one was hurt.

    $100,000 in damages is being estimated by officials.

     


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    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - UPDATE: Brown County Public Safety says the situation has been resolved.

    ------------------

    The Brown County Sheriff's Department is investigating a suspicious package found in front of Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena.

    Deputies are asking the public to avoid the area at this time.

    The Green Bay Gamblers were scheduled to play Thursday at 7:05 p.m.

    Lombardi Avenue, Armed Forces Drive, Oneida Street, and Holmgren Way are all blocked off around the arena.

    Drivers who are parked nearby are being asked to stay in their vehicles until the area can be cleared.

    The Gamblers posted on Facebook saying fans who had not made it to the game yet should stay home.

    The team says you can redeem your tickets for a future game due to the circumstances.


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  • 12/28/18--02:28: Trouble Calling 911
  • OCONTO COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - The Oconto County Sheriff's Office is warning residents that some callers may have difficulty reaching 911 from a cellphone.

    Sheriff Officials reported that their 911 program is experiencing difficulties.

    In some cases, callers using a cell phone may be sent to their administrative lines.

    If this happens, callers are being encouraged to wait for the recording to finish and then press 1 after all the options are given. 

    Cell phone providers say they do not know when the issue will be fixed.


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  • 12/28/18--02:33: Fake Money Found
  • MENASHA, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Counterfeit money is showing up in places many of us would least expect, the Salvation Army’s Red Kettles.

    The Fox Cities Salvation Army found at least $200 in fake money, and the holiday season might be revealing even more bogus bills.

    With the Fox Cities Salvation Army already falling short of its $1.2 million goal this year, getting "grinched" with fake bills is the last thing they needed.

     “We found more counterfeit money than we have in the past, and there were some hundred dollar bills that look very real, and I passed them onto the bank myself not noticing that they were not of value,” said Major David Minks of the Fox Cities Salvation Army.

    The bill, with what looks like Chinese symbols on it, even fooled a counterfeit bill detector.

    “What worried me the most is that, because I received it as real that other people might do just the same,” Minks said. “So many folks are so hurting to make ends meet that they might take the currency as real and then, of course, be in dire straits.”

    Counterfeit bills aren’t the only things the Salvation Army finds in its kettles.

    From house keys to rings, gold coins to other gold items, the Salvation Army has seen it all.

    “I pulled out something that was shiny and gold, and it turned out to be someone’s tooth, and that really surprised me!” Minks said.

    And while it may never be known if whoever made those donations knew the money was fake and intentionally dropped it in, the Salvation Army staff likes to give people the benefit of the doubt.

    “I don’t think it was intentional,” Fox Cities Salvation Army director of development Kristal Knudtson said. “Maybe it was a $100 bill that was in my pocket from somebody else that was counterfeit, and I thought I was being truly genuine, taking that $100 and putting in the kettle and now it couldn’t be used.”

    As it turns out, getting a hold of one of those fake bills is a lot easier than you may think and is actually just a click away.

    According to the U.S. Department of Treasury, about $70 million in counterfeit bills are in circulation. That's fewer than one in 10,000.

    The Appleton Police Department said that number might increase during the holidays.

    “You do see maybe more of an increase in certain areas, because of the amount of people, and the amount of busy shopping days that maybe people are hoping they’re not going to be as mindful than they would be on a normal day,” public information officer Meghan Cash said.

    If you suspect a bill might be fraudulent, officials say you should contact local law enforcement or the United States Secret Service.


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    SHAWANO, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A Shawano couple is looking to pay it forward after receiving an unexpected gift while their newborn daughter was fighting for her life this fall.

    When Chad and Cheyna Kary's daughter, Georgia, arrived 16 weeks early, they knew they'd be spending most of the next few months in Green Bay instead of at home in Shawano.

    “The whole experience is hard,” said Chad Kary.

    Through a friend, the Karys found a home to stay at, about a mile from St. Vincent Hospital where Georgia was being taken care of in the NICU.

    “She just handed the key to us and said here you are, here is a place to stay,” said Chad Kary.

    “It was instant relief that it was one less thing that we needed to worry about,” said Cheyna Kary.

    The Allouez home belongs to Eric and Anita Anderson, who live in Lakewood, but have kept the house for business purposes.

    “It was just like a perfect opportunity to say go ahead, you need it,” said Anita Anderson. “We've been lucky. Our children have been healthy and our grandchildren are healthy so it just felt good.”

    The plan was for the Karys to stay at the home for four months, but a month into their stay, Georgia had complications with pneumonia and passed away.

    “The doctors and nurses did amazing things and did everything they could to help her,” said Chad Kary. “Unfortunately, she just wasn't strong enough to pull through.”

    In honor of their daughter, the Karys are planning to buy the home the Anderson's let them stay in. They plan to call it Georgia’s House and let families in similar situations stay in it for free.

    “It's such a hard time during a child's stay at the NICU, for the family, I think just that extra support means the world, so we want to make sure to give it back,” said Cheyna Kary.

    “They were just so grateful,” said Anderson. “They wanted to pay it forward and they just did it, it's like steroids, they're going after it and wanting to make a difference in honor of their daughter, I just think it's incredible.”

    To raise money to buy the house, the Karys are having a day-long benefit on New Year's Eve at their Shawano restaurant, The Launching Pad.

    “We owe a debt to a lot of people and hopefully this is a way we can help repay that to somebody,” said Chad Kary.

    The Karys’ goal is to raise $75,000. They say the Andersons offered to sell them the house for about half of what it is likely worth.

    “It just feels good,” said Anderson. “It feels right and so we're going with it.”

    “I can't wait to be the one that gets to go here is your key,” said Chad Kary.

    To donate to the Karys' efforts, a GoFundMe page has been set up.


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    CHAMBERS ISLAND, WI (WTAQ) - Additional acres on a Door County island are being preserved for the fifth time this year.

    Nine acres of Chambers Island are being preserved by the Door County Land Trust.

    Long-time summer visitors of the island, Pete and Fawn Rodgers, donated the land.

    “We are grateful for Pete and Fawn Roger’s generosity and for their vision to help protect this ecological gem. Their love of the land and the island will be honored forever and they leave a lasting legacy for future generations," says land program director, Julie Schartner.

    Looking forward to next year, additional pieces of land on the island have been chosen for further protection, as well as the removal of invasive plants.

    Also, the Door County Land Trust is continuing their efforts to reach its $350,000 goal for the completion of the Chambers Island Nature Preserve.

    Please contact Development Director Cinnamon Rossman, (920) 746-1359 or crossman@doorcountylandtrust.org, for additional information about donating to the Door County Land Trust.


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  • 12/28/18--11:57: Local Sears set to Close
  • GRAND CHUTE, WI (WTAQ) - It was announced by Sears on Friday that 80 more of their stores will be closing nationwide, including one in the Fox Valley.

    Liquidation is expected to begin in January for the Sears store in the Fox River Mall in Grand Chute, which will close in March of 2019.

    It has not been indicated by Sears how many employees will be affected by the closure.

    The announced closure comes after the Sears store in Green Bay shut its doors earlier this year.

    Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October.


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  • 12/29/18--02:44: Icy Conditions Return
  • GRAND CHUTE, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - We knew it was coming and yesterday the rain changed to snow.

    Winter came back to Outagamie County on Friday.

    Freezing temperatures made the roads icy, and crews are battling winter conditions in the Fox Valley.

    Plow trucks could be seen out throughout the day, trying to keep the roads safe.

    Dean Steingraber, an Outagamie County highway Commissioner, says his crews are trying to be as prepared as possible.

    “We’re out there right now putting salt and brine down, and just watching those roads,” Steingraber said. “It is time here now for winter to kind of set in, and that’s what we have.”

    The Outagamie County Highway Department says once the snow starts falling, it becomes a waiting game to see if roads will get slippery.

    “It’s getting right about where that 30 degrees, 29, 28 degrees," Steingraber explained. "The temperatures starting to drop down below freezing, and that’s the vulnerable time when the pavement can get pretty slick.”

    The highway department is hopeful that roads won't get too dangerous, but is still cautioning drivers to slow down.

    But for some who were out on the roads, there may be a such a thing as driving a little too slow.

    One Oshkosh man says he has seen his fair share during his commute from Oshkosh to Grand Chute.

    “It always seems like they always kind of forget how to drive," said Terrance Jones. "Every time when the snow comes, so you know, it’s just a lot of slow driving out there.”

    Road workers say if you have to travel in icy conditions, it’s a good idea to pump the brakes to make sure you have some traction.


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  • 12/29/18--02:53: Cause Unknown in House Fire
  • TWO RIVERS, WI (WTAQ) - An investigation is ongoing following a Friday afternoon fire in Two Rivers.

    The fire started on the second floor in a living area in a Two Rivers home, according to fire officials.

    Four adults living in the home, on the 2200 block of Jefferson Street, were all uninjured.

    No word on the cause of the fire or the dollar amount in damages at this point.


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    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - A large police presence could be seen around the Brown County Arena Thursday night. 

    "About 6:30 we were notified a suspicious package was located near the Brown County Veterans Memorial. Brown County Sheriff's Department and Police were called," said Terry Charles from PMI Entertainment Group. The group manages the Resch Center. 

    A Green Bay Gamblers hockey game was happening at the Resch Center nearby when authorities were called.

    Police told people to stay inside the building, while others heading to the game were told to avoid the area.

    "The people inside the building already were safe, we were told that by police," explained Charles. "We told them what was going on outside and if it continues after the game is finished we would give you a specific exit strategy, " he said.

    Although this is the first suspicious package to be found near the Resch Center, Captain Dan Sandberg with the Brown County Sheriff's Department said incidents like this happen often.

    "We have a joint regional bomb squad with Brown County and Outagamie County. It's a regional response and they are probably the most active special unit that we have on our department. They've been called no less than 33 times this year," said Capt. Sandberg.

    While Thursday's incident seemed to be an innocent mistake, Captain Sandberg said that's not always the case.

    That's the reason he's encouraging people to report anything they think is suspicious.

    "When they're traveling or at the mall, please call the police so we can investigate it, cause in this day in age, We can't afford to ignore stuff, we rather check it out and see that it's nothing than for something bad to happen," he said.

    If you were not able to make it into Thursday night's Gamblers game, team officials say you can use your ticket to attend another game at the Resch Center during the season. 


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    COOPERSTOWN, WI (WTAQ) - The Green Bay man who died when a car crashed near a river in Manitowoc County on Wednesday has been identified by the Manitowoc County Coroner.

    Following the single-vehicle rollover on I-43 near Devils River in the town of Cooperstown, 22-year-old Diontai Hamilton was found dead at the scene.

    It happened when the driver, a 19-year-old Green Bay woman, drove through a barrier fence and rolled the car down a steep embankment.

    Deputies say both adults were wearing seat belts and the woman and a baby in the car were taken to the hospital.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - Four men are being charged following a Green Bay shooting earlier this month that happened on Western Avenue.

    26-year-old Ricardo Torres, his cousin 28-year-old Richard Torres, 26-year-old Andrew Flor, and 25-year-old Angel Villalobos face charges of being party to attempted first-degree intentional homicide and being party to aggravated battery with the intent of causing great bodily harm.

    A warrant has been issued for Villalobos, after the Torres cousins and Flor were arrested last week.

    The victim told police Richard Torres loaned him money to move from California to Wisconsin and Ricardo Torres helped him get a job, according to the complaint.

    The victim says that the Torres cousins began calling and harassing the victim about the money, even though Richard Torres at first told him he did not have to pay him back.

    On December 10, the four suspects and another man drove to the victim's home on Western Avenue and Ricardo Torres got out of the vehicle and shot the victim, according to the prosecutors.

    The victim survived even after being shot a total of six times.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Step inside Streu's Pharmacy and odds are people know what it's like to pay a medical bill.

    "I thought I was just going to have a check up," said Sabrina Weiland. 

    Sabrina Weiland thought it was just a cough, and as she said, a simple check up.

    "All they did was just kind of listen to my lungs and bill me a lot of money," she said. 

    One hundred and eighty dollars later, after insurance, she thought the check up didn't match the bill. 

    "I definitely probably would've avoided going if I knew it was going to be that expensive

    So would knowing the prices before going to the hospital be helpful?

    Having options and know what your options are are always useful," said Weiland.

    We asked people at Streu's Pharmacy if they've ever been surprised by a large hospital bill. 

    "Oh yeah, many times," said Belinda Teran. 

    "Unless there is a broken bone sticking out, I'm not going," said Tracy Bader. 

    It's the vagueness between cost and care that many say keep them away. 

    "I think the last time I asked for an itemized bill and my Band-Aid was $8," said Bader. 

    A federal law now requires that all hospitals post their prices on their website. It's part of the Trump administration's goal to better educate patients. 

    "As an industry we are not there yet, and that's not good," said Jim Dietsche, Bellin's Chief Financial Officer. "It's not healthy for consumers, especially when healthcare is so expensive." 

    We asked Dietsche what the new law means for Bellin Health. 

    "Any individual item that we can charge for in our hospital, they're going to see a list of all of those charges," said Dietsche. 

    He says it's an overwhelming list of about 50,0000 items. 

    While Bellin is looking for ways to provide more transparency about costs to those getting medical care, Dietsche says this is another step.

    "The end point is, if you come in for a service, before you have that service provided, you know exactly what it's going to cost you." said Dietsche. "Here's what your responsibility is going to be, no surprises." 

    Simplifying the process further would mean bundling items together and including insurance. 


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    TOWN OF SCOTT, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Brown County Sheriff's say two men ice fishing were rescued from the Bay of Green Bay.

    The rescue happened just before 1:30 Sunday morning in the Town of Scott.

    Officials say the men were from Illinois and stranded after the ice broke.

    The open water prevented them from getting back to shore.

    Officials say they were on a chunk of ice about 300 yards from Volk's Landing.

    The two men were rescued by boat and not injured.


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    MANITOWOC COUNTY, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Denied. That's what happened eleven days after Steven Avery's attorney requested new testing of bones in the Teresa Halbach murder case, in another effort to exonerate Avery. 

    The Wisconsin Court of Appeals denied Kathleen Zellner's request Friday. 

    She said the testing would, "...prove the murder and mutilation occurred in the Manitowoc County Gravel Pit and the bones were planted in Mr. Avery's burn pit to frame him,” she tweeted. “It would refute the State's entire theory that she was killed on the Avery property in Avery's garage and burned in his burn pit. That type of evidence reverses convictions This would be such a huge development that we would expect that a new trial could be granted outright."

    As of Saturday evening, Zellner's last tweet was Wednesday, Dec. 26. 

    Avery and his nephew, Brendan Dassey, are serving life prison terms for the 2005 murder of Halbach.

    So far, all of Avery’s appeals have been denied. Dassey’s most recent appeal, to the United States Supreme Court, was also denied.


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    GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - The Green Bay Packers (6-9-1) wrapped up a disappointing season with a shutout 31-0 loss at home against the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers exited the game in the second quarter and never returned following a concussion. Both Green Bay and the Detroit Lions (6-10) will miss the playoffs.

    Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford threw for 266 yards and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver T.J. Jones. The Lions led 21-0 at halftime and dominated the action to that point with an edge in total yards (261-67) and first downs (16-3).

    Lions kicker Matt Prater contributed to the offensive attack as he threw a touchdown pass with 10:36 left in the second quarter to Levine Toilolo. 

    Aaron Rodgers finished 3 of 5 for 26 yards after only playing three series. 

    Packers receiver Davante Adams missed the game with a knee injury and finishes the season with 111 catches, one shy of tying the single-season franchise record set by Sterling Sharpe in 1993.

    Backup quarterback DeShone Kizer went 16 of 35 for 132 yards, with no touchdowns and one interception.

    The Packers struggled on the ground throughout the game, managing only 46 yards rushing overall on 13 carries.


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    ASHWAUBENON, WI (WTAQ) - You can ring in the new year tonight outside Lambeau Field as Titletown will be hosting a party with something to do for all ages.

    It's the inaugural outdoor New Year's Eve celebration taking place at Titletown and you'll be able to enjoy your favorite outdoor activities extra late tonight.

    "People will be able to come and tube or skate from 10 a.m. all the way until midnight," explains Mallory Steinberg with Titletown.

    Other activities include:

    • Live Ice Carving from 8-9 p.m.: the team from Art Below Zero will create an interactive New Years-themed ice sculpture with photo opportunities following the carving.
    • Art Hop Collective from 8-11 p.m.: Watch a giant painted mural come to life and enjoy live music as the Art Hop Collective crew creates a masterpiece.
    • Lawn Games from 8-11 p.m.: Challenge friends and family to lawn pong and giant Jenga.
    • Warming Tent from 8 p.m.-midnight: WIXX will provide the soundtrack for the evening inside the heated tent. Warm up while enjoying food and beverages, which will be available for purchase.
    • Virtual Graffiti Wall and Light Bright: Guests can create their own art with two interactive screens and enjoy playing with a super-sized childhood favorite.
    • LED Swing: Swing into the New Year with this fun, lit swing.
    • Ice Beat Factory Performance from 11-11:45 p.m.: the coolest show of the year will take place on the Great Lawn. A DJ and drummer will accompany the one-of-a-kind live ice carving performance.

    Plus, make sure to take some photos of the kids inside an interactive snow globe.

    "[It is] your favorite holiday souvenir, but giant size," explains Steinberg. "So you actually get to step inside the snowglobe and get pictures taken, so it's a great photo opportunity."

    It will also be your final chance to catch the Winter Jubilee Light Show.

    "It's the projected holiday scene on Lambeau Field, it's about seven minutes in length," she says. "It's animated and it has different music that's set to it."

    The light show runs from approximately 11:52 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. as it will run into the culmination of the event, a countdown to midnight and fireworks at twelve.

    If you plan on bringing the kids, there's some adult fun available also.

    "We have our ice lounge, as well," says Steinberg. "Which will be open throughout the evening, and there are drinks available for purchase there."

     A signed waiver to skate and tube is required for anyone 17 years old and under. The waivers can be found here.


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