Columbia hosts 15th annual First Night celebration

Tuesday, December 29, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — This year's First Night, the community's annual celebration on New Year's Eve, features a 5k run/walk in the afternoon followed by more than 60 performances and family activities in eight venues downtown.

Evening festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, with doors opening at 6 p.m. The lineup includes swing dancing, belly dancing, Latin dancing and Eastern European dancing; dueling pianos; country, bluegrass and rock bands; a ballet troupe; drum lines and Taiko, a type of Japanese drum; a storyteller; a puppet show; teenage bands; and an open mic.

The events are scheduled at these locations: the Armory Sports Center, the Boone County Courthouse Square, the Columbia Art League, First Christian Church, Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, Missouri United Methodist Church, Stephens College and the YouZeum.

“Every year, we work hard to provide a broad array of performing arts: musicians, dancers, drum corps, storytellers, magicians, puppeteers," Director of Operations Tracy Lane said in an e-mail.  "There is also a vast array of hands-on interactive art projects for children and families."

Performers include Celandine, a roots-rock band; Saint Louis Osuwa Taiko, a group playing Japanese drums; dueling pianists Suti Forte and Ken Kehner; Joel Meyers, an illusionist and magician; the StoneLion Puppet Theatre; and klezmer clarinetist Margo Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys.

A children’s procession will begin at the Boone County Courthouse Square at 9:15 p.m. with a performance by a citywide drum line and fireworks. At 11:30 p.m., the finale will take place at the courthouse with entertainment and more fireworks at midnight. 

Two city buses will shuttle event-goers every 10 to 15 minutes from 6:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. One route will head from Walnut Street south to the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, and the other will go east to venues around Stephens College. Each makes four designated stops but will also stop as requested.

Parking is available at the garages on Sixth and Eighth streets, Tenth and Cherry, and Eighth and Walnut. Some streets around the courthouse may be closed during the fireworks displays.

Admission is $8 for those 8 years and older until 4 p.m. Thursday at Parks and Recreation, the Activity and Recreation Center, Streetside Records and Gerbes Supermarkets

At the door, admission is $10, available after 5:30 p.m. at Stamper Commons and after 6 p.m. at the Armory, First Christian Church and the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts.

Free tickets at the Armory are restricted to those who need financial assistance, said Jane Accurso, director of entertainment, in an e-mail.

“Several hundred passes have already been given away to the Voluntary Action Center and to directors of various organizations that support disabilities, special needs, drug and alcohol addictions and the homeless,” she said.

Dinner is available in Stamper Commons’ food court at 5:30 with the grill open late into the evening.

The 5k run/walk will begin at 4 p.m. in Flat Branch Park, loop around and end at Cyclextreme, a bike shop on Sixth Street in downtown Columbia.

The entry fee is $12 to $20 on or before Tuesday and $15 to $25 on race day depending on age. Registration takes place online.

Here is a sampling of other events scheduled in Columbia for New Year’s Eve:

New Year’s in Rocheport

At the Les Bourgeois Vineyards' Blufftop Bistro in Rocheport, there will be live music, a champagne toast and a special menu by Chef Benjamin Clay with appetizers, scallops, beef tenderloin, layered cheesecake and other desserts. A countdown to midnight takes place on the terrace.

Where: Les Bourgeois Vineyards, Rocheport

When: Dinner begins at 5 p.m. (reservations taken until 10 p.m.). Party on the terrace begins at 9 p.m.

Cost: Dinner at menu prices and $10 open bar for guests with reservations, $20 for walk-ins.

Contact: 698-2300 for reservations or go to

“We Always Swing” Jazz Series’ New Year’s Eve Bash

Bobby Watson, a Jazz Series regular, and Horizon, a post-bop quintet, will perform two shows at Murry's. Tickets include the concert, dinner, champagne toast and noisemakers.

Where: Murry’s, 3107 Green Meadows Way

When: 6:30 and 9:45 p.m.

Cost: $95 for early seating, $135 late seating

Contact: 449-3001 or go to

New Year’s Eve Party at the Courtyard by Marriott

All packages include evening photo, chocolate fountain, coffee bar with Baileys and Kahlua, entertainment with the KC Street Band and DJ Broc Barton, two drink tickets and a champagne toast at midnight. Some packages include hotel room.

Where: Courtyard by Marriott, 3301 LeMonte Industrial Blvd.

When: 6:30 p.m. (Optional early check-in begins at noon)

Cost: $97  to $257 per couple, depending on accommodations.

Contact: 443-8000 or go to

 New Year’s Eve at Holiday Inn Select

There will be a free concert in the lobby atrium from 6 to 8:30 p.m., featuring the Bubbas. Options for the evening include: The Krazy Kats package, the Souled Out package and the Blues Deville package, all with dinner, entertainment and a hotel room.

Additional packages exclude dinner and room. There will also be a watch party for the Texas Bowl prior to the festivities in the Sports Zone.

Where: Holiday Inn Select Executive Center, 2200 I-70 Drive S.W.

When: Dinner at 7 p.m.; entertainment at 8 p.m.

Cost: $159.95 to  $199.95 for complete packages.

Contact: 445-8531 or go to

Blue Note New Year’s Eve Bash

The Big Smith Band will play at the Blue Note. Afterward, the Regency Hotel Downtown will offer rooms for $69 in conjunction with the bash. A watch party for the Texas Bowl game is scheduled prior to the festivities.

Where: The Blue Note, 17 N. Ninth St.

When: Doors open at 8:30 p.m.

Cost: $15

Contact: 874-1944 or go to

New Year’s Eve with the Bel Airs at Mojo’s

The Bel Airs will play a danceable mix with blues, country, soul and rock n' roll. There will be a complimentary toast at midnight. The Regency Hotel Downtown also offers rooms for $69 with the Mojo’s bash.

Where: Mojo’s, 1013 Park Ave.

When: 8:30 p.m.

Cost: $15

Contact: 875-0588 or go to

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