First Night setup begins in downtown Columbia

Friday, December 31, 2010 | 1:47 p.m. CST; updated 1:53 p.m. CST, Friday, December 31, 2010
Gary Laforce, left, and Don Moore, right, begin sound checks at the Missouri United Methodist Church on Ninth Street in preparation for the First Night events on Friday. Laforce and Moore work for Nelson Audio, which is managing all of the lights and sound for the New Years Eve celebration.

COLUMBIA — The driving rhythms and thick melodies of the Eagles echoed through the halls of Missouri United Methodist Church on Friday morning as setup for the First Night celebration began.

"I've been up since 4:30 this morning," Jane Accurso, director of the annual New Year's Eve event, said.

She had been moving around the District checking venues and getting ready for sound checks, and her day was just beginning. She would do eight sound checks on Friday afternoon as well as perform with the Ironweed Bluegrass Band at the Methodist church at 8:45 pm. 

Accurso has been with the event for eight years, first as a performer, then as entertainment director and now as overall director. First Night this year will feature more than 60 performers and activities throughout the evening. 

"It's a multicultural, multigenerational event that involves everything from magic to dance to music to storytelling to hula hoops to videology," Accurso said as she walked to the stage in the church auditorium to drop off her guitar.

Nearby, Don Moore and Gary Laforce of Nelson Audio were making sure everything was in place and functioning. One of their main concerns was that the equipment being used for the performances wouldn't overload a single circuit.

"The idea is to make it happen now and back things down so it doesn't happen during the event," Moore said.

In a different room, the two worked with dozens of speakers, mics, sound boards and mixers with touch screen controls, amps and power conditions and what seemed like a half mile of cabling. Back in the auditorium, there were even more mics and lights. There was even a pneumatic lift in case they needed to adjust lights on the ceiling. 

More information about the event can be found on the First Night website. Until 4 p.m., admission buttons are on sale at Gerbes Supermarkets and Streetside Records; after 6:30 p.m., they are available at First Christian Church, 101 N. Tenth St., First Presbyterian Church, 16 Hitt St., the Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, 203 S. Ninth St., and City Hall, 701 E. Broadway.

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