"Black Friday" falls on the day after Thanksgiving, when everyone flocks to local malls to take advantage of the sales and get a head start on Christmas shopping.
But the day before Thanksgiving, known in some circles as "Black Wednesday," is also one of the busiest times of the year - for neighborhood bars and saloons.
"It's our busiest day, right up there with St. Patrick's Day," says Brendan Biggane, the general manager of Brennan's Bowery Bar in Williamsville, N.Y., just outside Buffalo. "Staff-wise, it's all hands on deck that night. Everybody works. We have over 300 seats in our restaurant and our bar area is huge, and I'm telling you, it's wall-to-wall people."
The same is true at The Vig in Phoenix. Its big outdoor patio and 2,200-square-foot indoor bar fills up quickly with pre-Thanksgiving revelers on Black Wednesday.
"I really can't explain it," says Jim Riley, one of the owners of The Vig. "Travelers? Visitors? It is what it is, and what it is is very busy."
Biggane says, "Thanksgiving is when they all come back home for the holidays, and that Wednesday night is the best time to hook up with all the friends they haven't seen in a long time."
In fact, bartenders speculate that it's the looming prospect of a long day with the family, watching football and eating turkey and stuffing that prompts many customers to tie one on the day before. After all, they know they'll have several days to get over the hangover.
In some parts of the country, the Black Wednesday celebration is limited to young people returning home from college or from a new job that prompted them to move away. They catch up with old classmates or teammates, demonstrating their newfound success by buying drinks and drinking to excess.
But Biggane says that at Brennan's, Black Wednesday celebrants come from all age groups and all walks of life.
"I think it's become a kind of tradition," Biggane says. "There are a lot kids home from college catching up with friends they haven't seen since summer, but we also have older customers who may have grown up here or gone to college here and are coming back to renew old acquaintances."
And the drinking continues on throughout Thanksgiving weekend, as shown in alcohol-related car crash fatality rates from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Thanksgiving weekend is consistently one of the worst holiday weekends for traffic deaths due to drinking, along with the weekends of the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Memorial Day, New Year's and Christmas.
So one wild Thanksgiving weekend could cost you for as long as a DUI remains on your DMV record a period that varies by state. You likely won't be able to find cheap car insurance again until the DUI disappears from your record,
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