COLUMBIA — Despite warm afternoon temperatures, families bundled up to attend this year's First Night festivities.
“The weather is going to be beneficial for us this year,” Mary Martin, site manager for Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, said. “It’s cool, but it’s been bone-chilling cold before.”
Erin Carrillo and Courtney Deters, who both work for the Parks and Recreation Department, volunteered at First Night. Deters agreed that weather didn't hurt the celebration.
“People still come despite the weather,” Deters said.
Deters and Carrillo helped kids make crowns, noise makers, masks and decorate buttons in Calvary Episcopal Church. The Parks and Recreation Department has hosted children’s activities for many years during First Night, Carrillo said.
“Every year, seeing the kids' smiling faces makes the job worth it,” Carrillo said.
Devona Walker enjoyed watching her son hula-hoop and try on hats from Maude Vintage in Missouri United Methodist Church.
“We were going to walk around downtown and get frozen yogurt before going back to our place for the kids to have a little party,” she said of their evening plans.
Across the room, Janice and Joe Wieneman watched their daughter Holly get a hula-hooping lesson from a member of the St. Louis Hoop Club.
“It’s our first time at First Night, and we wanted to see the hula-hoopers because (Holly) likes to hula-hoop,” Janice Wieneman said.
Janice and Holly Wieneman were also there to watch Joe Wieneman perform on the mandolin in the Ironweed Bluegrass Band.
The Wienemans traveled to Columbia from Eldon for the festivities and said they hope come back next year.
“Holly clogs, so maybe we’ll bring the cloggers next year,” Janice Wieneman said.
Holly enthusiastically agreed.
“I can bring my friends,” she said.
Families and children were not the only ones enjoying First Night.
International student Annie Liao from Taiwan attended the celebration for the first time.
“It’s been pretty fun so far,” Liao said. ”I’ve really enjoyed the shows.”
Columbia resident Maggie Yoest has attended the festival numerous times.
“I like the local talent — especially the music,” Yoest said.
Yoest and her husband enjoyed Sean Hennessy’s jazz guitar at Columbia Art League Gallery before heading over to the performances at Missouri United Methodist Church.
This year was the first time Columbia's First Night celebration didn't include Stephens College, which meant all activities were within four blocks, Martin said.
“People may move from venue to venue because it’s all downtown,” Martin said.
Dan Neuharth, one of the volunteers stationed at downtown Calvary Episcopal Church, said he was excited to welcome people to the event.
“I just wanted to do something other than party or sit at home,” Neuharth said.