- Big Fat Geek Outing: Gamers get their fill at the Cold Fusion LAN Center.
According to Adam Shannon, the Cold Fusion LAN Center is "light on internet, light on coffee, but heavy on games." The gaming lounge and internet café has 20 computers and 10 Xbox and PlayStation 2 consoles, all linked to a Local Area Network. If 20 players want to divide into teams, they can battle each other on 20 different games, including Unreal Tournament and Battlefield 1942. The center also hosts weeknight tourneys and Friday-night-to-Sunday-morning LANfest parties. "People will sit for 36 hours, drinking Red Bull until they're shaking, playing computer games," says Shannon, the center's operations manager. "We're giving them an environment where Mom's not sticking her head down the basement, yelling to keep the noise down." It's open from 8:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday at 5905 Andrews Road in Mentor-on-the-Lake. Hourly rates are $2.50 for members and $5 for non-members; call 440-209-0432. -- Cris Glaser
Fun With Fish
Each year, organizers of Port Clinton's Walleye Madness at Midnight come up with a new way to drop Wylie, their fiberglass mascot, and usher in the new year. On Friday, the 20-foot, 600-pound illuminated fish will descend 60 feet with some help from a 120-foot crane and selected revelers. A line of volunteers will lower Wylie, "just like we did at the very first drop," says co-founder Dan Sedlak. Ah, yes, 1997's initial outing, when the fish's papier-mâché frame cracked before it reached bottom. Since then, the annual celebration has attracted folks both famous (David Letterman featured Wiley on his late-night show) and not-so-famous (couples have gotten married on-site, with the fish serving as best man). Walleye dishes, an Elvis impersonator, and a reading of the poem "Why Wylie?" surface at 8 p.m. on Madison Street in downtown Port Clinton. Admission is free; call 800-282-5393. -- Lucy McKernan
For some (like, say, us), alcohol on New Year's Eve isn't an option. It's a requirement and a necessity. But if you prefer to ring in the new year a little less lubricated, First Night Akron is the way to go. So much is going on here -- including live music, ice skating, puppet shows, arts-and-crafts stations, and plenty of good eats -- you won't even have time to think about what you're missing by staying sober. Booze-free fun happens from 5 p.m. to midnight at more than a dozen locations in downtown Akron. Admission buttons are $10. Call 330-762-8555 for more info. -- Michael Gallucci