Since January, 2003
            
 Sliding from Before to After

It's almost that time, with the NHL Winter Classic's puck drop now less than 48 hours away, at 1 pm on Thursday, Jan. 1 at Nationals Park. (Check out the webcam to watch as preparations inside the stadium are rushed to completion.)
While tickets aren't easy to come by without a sizeable wad of cash, there will be events around the neighborhood where the both lucky ticket holders and unlucky ticket unholders can congregate before, during, and after the game.
* OFFICIAL FAN FESTIVAL: As mentioned previously, the official SPECTATOR PLAZA PRESENTED BY GEICO will be set up at the Fairgrounds at Half and M streets, SE, from 9 am until 1 pm, with all manner of attractions, prizes, food, music, and purchasing opportunities.
* ROCK THE RIVERFRONT: Starting at 10 am and running until 7 pm, Canal Park will celebrate the Winter Classic with its own free "Rock the Riverfront" festival, with CBS radio station 106.7 The Fan broadcasting live from the roof of the Park Tavern before and after the game. There will be live music, beer from DC Brau, food, ice skating (natch), former Caps players (including Dave Christian), and more. And the game will be broadcast on multiple TV screens.
* OTHER VENUES: Willie's will open at 8:30 am, the Big Stick at 9 am, Bluejacket at 10 am, Justin's Cafe at 11, and Biersch at 1 pm (because of a private event earlier in the day)--the Post's Going Out Guide has more on what these places will be offering. And of course my Food Options map gives you the complete lineup of eateries and drinkeries in the area.
* CAPS MASS: St, Vincent de Paul church at South Capitol and M SE is providing a special Winter Classic Caps Mass at 11:30 am.
* BIKESHARE: (ADDED) There's going to be a corral from 11:30 am until 30 minutes after the game at the dock at 1st and N SE.
And now, the buzz-kill items:
* ROAD CLOSURES: MPD has announced road closures from 8:30 am until approximately 6:30 pm, including Potomac Avenue south of the ballpark, 1st Street south of M, N Street from South Capitol to Tingey, and Half, Van, and Cushing (?) between M and N.
* PARKING: Even though it will be New Year's Day, don't be thinking you can park free and clear on the streets in the neighborhood: DPW has announced that residential parking restrictions will be enforced. My map of close-by parking lots should be relatively accurate in terms of locations, though probably not prices. UPDATE: However, apparently meters will not be enforced.
Finally, if you are desperate for not-necessarily-hockey-related outdoor festivities but can't wait until Thursday:
* NOON YARDS EVE: On Wednesday, Dec. 31, from 10 am to 1 pm there's the free Noon Yards Eve. Billed as "a fun daytime New Year's Eve celebration for the family and children," it will feature a big countdown and balloon drop at noon, along with lots of activities for the kids and a "trackless train ride" through Yards Park.
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