PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — For the first time in a few years since the COVID pandemic began, Portland’s Entertainment District in Old Town is ready to ring in the new year.

There is a certain buzz in the air for this New Year’s Eve — and Portland police will have officers in the area to help ensure everyone stays safe.

Hours before the Countdown to 2023 began, the Dixie Tavern began prepping for the New Year’s Eve rush. Co-owner Dan Lenzen told KOIN 6 News the celebration is often the Dixie Tavern’s second-busiest night of the year. And, he said, they’re prepared to bring guests a safe and fun night.

“We get tens of thousands of people down here all the time. So we will have street closures as normal, and there will be at least 90 security out here, half a dozen police officers,” Lenzen said. “So as far as private security and public safety, I think we’re gonna be pretty good out here.”

One safety measure is road closures.

“Expect to see road closures in Old Town that we typically see and expect to see police officers out there to encourage everyone to stay safe,” PPB Sgt. Kevin Allen told KOIN 6 News.

Because of staffing issues, PPB said they weren’t able to hire extra patrolling officers in time for this holiday. But their Entertainment District detail will be out with uniformed officers. The road closures will help to keep pedestrians safe.

Lenzen, who advocated to help bring the detail back to Old Town this fall, said the PPB-business partnership continues to help revitalize the area.

“The entertainment details is an incredibly important part of putting through 10-to-20,000 people every weekend,” he said. “They work with us, we work with them. They help us be able to have fun in our venues. Whereas if we didn’t have them (as we did before) it was a little bit of a challenge at times.”

Just down 3rd Avenue at Tube PDX, new owner Yannick Babia said the recently re-opened venue is already expecting about 50 guests.

“I mean, we are pretty much sold out,” Babia told KOIN 6 News.

He said he’s grateful for the added security this weekend and for the way the community watches out for one another.

“Spark, Shake, Fuse and Casa, we all communicate and talk to each other about making the neighborhood safer for everybody,” Babia said.

While authorities are glad to see people return to a pre-pandemic level of fun — with substances often a part of the party — Allen said it’s on everyone to help keep the city safe.

Police patrols in Old Town's Entertainment District, December 31, 2022 (KOIN)
Police patrols in Old Town’s Entertainment District, December 31, 2022 (KOIN)

“Make sure you know how you’re getting home,” he said. “Obviously, alcohol and other drugs sometimes are a part of the celebrations. You don’t want to be making the decision when you’re impaired on how you’re going to get home. So, we were asking people to plan ahead and know what they’re going to do.”

If you are partying too much, don’t drive. TriMet offers free rides to any and all from 8 p.m. to at least 2 a.m.