'First Night' offers family-friendly New Year's celebration

Tuesday, December 30, 2008 | 8:08 p.m. CST; updated 9:12 p.m. CST, Tuesday, December 30, 2008

For those looking to avoid the rowdier festivities of most New Year's Eve celebrations, First Night Columbia might be a more family-friendly alternative.

Modeled after a citywide New Year's celebration that originated in Boston in 1976, the 14th First Night Columbia is an alcohol-free celebration of the arts with activities and entertainment for all ages.

First Night schedule of events

Stamper Commons, Lower Level, Stephens College

5:30 to 7 p.m. Bob Ault (ragtime piano)

7 to 8 p.m. The Deva Dancers

8:15 to 9 p.m. Poetry in Motion (break-dancing)

9:30 to 11 p.m. Artie's Univibe (classic rock)

Stamper Commons Lounge, Stephens College

7 to 7:45 p.m. Together With Drumming (family drum circle)

8 to 9 p.m. Together with Drumming

9:15 to 10:15 p.m. Compass Musician Showcase

10:30 to 11:30 p.m. David Wax (Mexo/Americana)

LRW Kimball Stephens Ballroom

9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Savoy Family Cajun Band

Windsor Auditorium

7 to 7:45 p.m. Beppe Gambetta (master Italian and Americana guitarist)

8 to 9 p.m. Ironweed Bluegrass Band

9:15 to 10:15 p.m. Tony McManus (Celtic guitarist)

10:30 to 11:30 p.m. Hennessy Brothers (jazz)

Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts

7 to 7:45 p.m. Savoy Family Cajun Band

8 to 9:00 p.m. Keith Jozsef (magician)

9:15 to 10:15 p.m. The Duel - Sutu Forte and Dr. Nelson Neves

10:30 to 11:30 p.m. Beppe Gambetta (master Italian and Americana guitarist)  and Tony McManus (Celtic guitarist)

First Christian Church

7 to 7:45 p.m. Billy Lee (old time dance fiddler)

8 p.m. JOIA World Percussion

9:30 to 11:30 p.m. Billy Lee w/Jim Thaxter

LRW Kimball Ballroom

7 to 9 p.m. Brian Hart w/Gan Bua Friends and Tim Langen (Irish dance)

Missouri United Methodist Church

7 to 7:30 p.m. Parasol Puppets - The Amazing Mysto's Magic Show

7:45 to 8:30 p.m. Parasol Puppets - George and the Dragon

8:45 to 9:30 p.m. China Folk Artists

9:45 to 10:30 p.m. China Folk Artists

10:40 to 11:30 p.m. Kristina Matinez (Flamenco dance performance)

Missouri United Methodist Church Music Room

7 to 9 p.m. Student Open Mic

9 to 9:30 p.m. The Defenstrators

9:30 to 10 p.m. Nightshift

10 to 11:30 p.m. Fiddler's Frolic - hosted by Doc Howard Marshall

Missouri United Methodist Church Activity Room

11 p.m. JOIA World Percussion

First Christian Church Parking lot

9:15 p.m. City-Wide Drum Line and Rhythm Band

Boone County Courthouse Square

11:30 p.m. JOIA World Percussion

Armory Sports Center

7 to 11:45 p.m. Teen Venue: First Night/Last Chance

For more information call 874-7460 or go to

The festivities kick off at 4 p.m. with a 5K run/walk and continue on into the night and early morning with over 60 performances at different venues downtown.     

"We have everything from ragtime to rock and roll," First Night's director of operations Karen Ramey said. "We have dueling grand pianos, an Italian guitar master, Chinese folk art and puppets, percussion, belly dancers. We have the gamut; from local to international."

Those interested in attending may purchase early admission buttons for $8 until 4 p.m. Wednesday at Columbia Parks and Recreation Department, the ARC, Streetside Records and Gerbes Supermarkets.

After 5:30 p.m., buttons will be available for $10 at the YouZeum and Stamper Commons at Stephens College. After 6:30 p.m. buttons will also be available at the Armory, First Christian Church and the Missouri Center Center for the Arts.

Admission is free for those 7 years old and younger.

Ramey said a committee has been preparing for First Night Columbia all year.

"It's a pretty big production," she said. Ramey said she is unsure how many buttons have been sold for the event so far, but that they are expecting somewhere around 12,000 people.

"The entertainment is really fantastic, and it's a great opportunity to celebrate the new year with family and friends," Ramey said. "It's just a really good time to come out to downtown Columbia and really enjoy our beautiful district and the facilities and some great entertainment and activities."


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Charles Dudley Jr December 31, 2008 | 2:49 a.m.

Why didn't this story mention the 800 free admission tickets?

Why is their committee a closed meeting process and not open to the public?

Why the varying times of button availability and the price increases? Seems like a real "fleecing of Columbia Citizens" right there.

Citizens of Columbia should be asking themselves all of these questions and demanding more accountability from Mike Hood the Executive Director of Parks and Recreation.

Citizens of Columbia should be asking themselves all of these questions and demanding more accountability from our City Council as a whole and First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand December 31, 2008 | 7:07 a.m.

It doesn't mention the free ticket issue apparently because 1) Missourian reporters and, more importantly, editors don't read their readers' feedback here and 2) it's easier to write a puff piece than to ask tough questions and rock the boat.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr December 31, 2008 | 9:43 a.m.

Ayn Rand I have to agree with you on all points.

Finally something we can agree on. Miracles do happen.

(Report Comment)

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