First Night brings different generations together

Wednesday, December 31, 2008 | 10:07 p.m. CST; updated 10:52 p.m. CST, Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Eben Misho, 7, Chloe Midkif, 5, and Simon Midkiff, 9, dance around the stars near the Boone County Courthouse following the fireworks show for First Night on Wednesday.

COLUMBIA — Joan Bay stood around two tables where her two grandchildren made masks and shakers out of paper plates, stickers and other materials as they celebrated the coming of the new year early at Columbia's First Night on Wednesday.

Bay, her daughter, Jennifer Bay Williams, and Bay's grandchildren were brought together by the YouZeum's celebration of New Year's Eve, where they offered arts and crafts activities for kids of different ages.


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Bay said they chose this First Night venue because it is children-friendly and offers something for everyone. She also liked that it gave her a place to go with her daughter's family, who is visiting from Kentucky.

"I want them to love this, so they will say every year, 'Let's go to granny's,'" she said.

Bay's family was one of the many multigenerational families brought together at First Night.

Ann Edwards brought her great-nephew to the Missouri United Methodist Church's celebration. There, they were offering crafts, puppet shows and Chinese folk dancing. As her great-nephew ran from one station to another in the crafts room, Edwards chased after him holding his mask, kazoo and other homemade crafts.

She said that she started coming to First Night with her great-niece, but she became too old for it. She thought this year would be a good time to introduce her great-nephew to the tradition.

"I have never liked the quote, un-quote New Year's party," Edwards said. "It's for people who think they are having fun but aren't."

The different First Night venues, which included the Armory Sports Center, Stephens College, YouZeum, Missouri United Methodist Church, had activities and live entertainment that brought a mix of grandparents, parents, teens and young children out to celebrate the new year.

The live entertainment included puppet shows and Chinese folk dancing at the Missouri United Methodist Church, teen bands at the Armory Sports Center and interactive science activities at YouZeum.

First Night is held every year on New Year's Eve, starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 12:30 a.m. with fireworks at the Boone County Courthouse. It is meant to offer an alcohol-free way to celebrate the new year.

Fairer weather this year promised for a better turnout than last. Karen Ramey, the director of operations for First Night, said that although she didn't know how many buttons had been purchased for the event, she thought the warmer weather would bring out more people. She said that the average for the event is around 12,000 people.

The Armory Sports Center, a venue for teens that offered live music, attracted quite a few first-timers to First Night.

Abagael Cornelison, 17, was at the Armory watching her friend Ken Araiza, a guitarist for the Bluems, play. She said she enjoyed it because it gave her and her friends somewhere to go downtown.

"Me and my friends have always liked to hang out downtown," Cornelison said. "We used to go to the Twilight Festival. There are not a lot of other places teenagers can go. ... This is safer."

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