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By Mehgan Belanger
NEW YORK – Convenience store chains including 7-Eleven Inc. and Cumberland Farms Inc. are making staying awake easier for New Year’s Eve partiers and drivers by offering free cups of coffee at their stores.
7-Eleven’s New Year’s coffee give-away tradition, which began on the last day of 1987, turns 21 in 2009. Instead of celebrating with a glass of champagne, participating 7-Eleven stores in select regions will give away free 12-ounce cups of coffee to drivers and partiers who stop in between midnight on Dec. 31, and 6 a.m. Jan. 1, company spokeswoman Margaret Chabris told CSNews Online.
The offer includes all 7-Eleven stores' fresh-brewed coffees, as well as gourmet specialties like cappuccino and hot chocolate, she said.
Participating stores in the following regions will display a poster in the front window: Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; greater Austin, Texas; Utah; Colorado; Arizona; Washington; Oregon; Idaho; Northern California; Nevada; Florida; Illinois; Indiana; Ohio; Michigan; Kansas; Missouri; Central and Southern Virginia; Maryland; and Washington D.C.
In addition, all Cumberland Farms stores in the Northeast and Florida will give away cups of its new Farmhouse Blend and original hot coffee on the house from 5 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to 5 a.m. New Year’s Day. The free coffee offer is available at all stores except for those with Dunkin Donuts service, the company stated. This marks the second year that the convenience retailer will give away free coffee.
"We want drivers to be safe and alert on the roads this holiday season," Ari Haseotes, president of Cumberland Farms, said in a statement. "This free coffee is a way for us to say thanks to our customers, especially during these trying economic times."
Cumberland Farms encouraged drivers to come in for a free cup, citing data from the National Sleep Foundation, which found 60 percent of Americans have driven while feeling sleepy, and advises that a combination of caffeine and naps can fight drowsiness, a leading cause of accidents.
Meanwhile, the second-largest U.S. brewer, MillerCoors, is offering free rides to partygoers on New Year’s Eve by providing free bus rides to Milwaukee, Waukesha and Madison, Wis., residents on New Year's Eve through early New Year's Day, the Associated Press reported.
Miller began the program 21 years ago in Milwaukee County, and it has expanded to Waukesha and Madison. It also offers free rides in the Twin Cities on St. Patrick's Day, according to the report.
The program’s organizers estimated it has taken more than 1.7 million cars off the roads since it started.
In Milwaukee County, free rides begin at 8 p.m. and run through 3 or 4 a.m. The Waukesha routes begin at 7 p.m. and run to 3:30 a.m., while Madison Metro Transit rides to Madison, Middleton, and Fitchburg begin at 7 p.m. and end at 1 a.m., the report stated.