LETTER TO THE EDITOR: First Night should be available to everyone

Saturday, December 24, 2011 | 6:57 p.m. CST

This is not a new complaint, but — once again — Columbia’s First Night fails to “bring the whole community together.” It is divisive.

The city of Columbia is one of the major sponsors of the event. The City Council allocates thousands of taxpayer dollars, authorizes hundreds of staff hours and provides multiple taxpayer funded services, including free bus shuttles, for First Night.

However, families with limited incomes are left out of almost all programs because they cannot afford to buy the attendance “buttons.”

We and the council are told that a limited number of free passes/buttons are available, based on income.

But information as to how, when and where one might apply for/obtain these “buttons” are not mentioned in their advertisements (or in the 12/20/11 Missourian article, “Columbia annual First Night aims to ‘make some noise’) and are hard to locate.

Here’s the solution: Do what, for example, Austin, Texas, does. Start the new year off right by getting rid of the buttons and giving full access to everyone to share and enjoy this artistic, cultural and fun celebration. 

Prior to approval of public funding for 2012, the City Council (as well as the many private sponsors) should insist that the First Night board stop excluding families.

Let's embrace a welcoming First Night for all.

Mary Hussmann is an organizer with GRO  — Grass Roots Organizing




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Eric Cox December 26, 2011 | 7:22 a.m.

I remember Twilight Festival, open to all sounds good in theory, in practice not so much. Unfortunately there are plenty members of the community who are not good members of the community.

(Report Comment)
mike mentor December 26, 2011 | 10:56 a.m.

Young children are free everywhere and there are some free events. Hard to say we should be doing the same things that a city 8 times our size is...

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle December 26, 2011 | 12:24 p.m.

@Eric: The last couple years of Twilight Festivals, anyway. It ran for many years before then without any real problems.

Although, that old Hacky Sacker dude that always showed up was annoying as heck. :-O

(Report Comment)
frank christian December 26, 2011 | 2:36 p.m.

"Although, that old Hacky Sacker dude that always showed up was annoying as heck. :-O"

Still is.

(Report Comment)
John Schmidt December 26, 2011 | 8:15 p.m.

I think they should make hackysackers get a license and buy insurance!

(Report Comment)
Daniel Jordan December 26, 2011 | 10:03 p.m.

"Hackey Sack: Danger or Peril?" Read the full report by an unbiased international blue-ribbon panel of investigators at: I've read the entire 356 pages through several times. It really opened my eyes.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro December 27, 2011 | 2:56 p.m.

Why is there a $10 charge to attend?
What is the city trying to accomplish downtown?
Who are they trying to discourage from attending?
At the same time volunteers do get "rewarded."
At least there's a bit of justice downtown.

And as for the Twilight Festival, it was the only good- will event "The District" ever provided to this town.
It was the intentional mismanagement and bad changes they made to it which led to its demise.
Every minor in attendance should have been required to have a parent escort, the main stage should never have been moved from the courthouse square and parks and recreation dept. should never have introduced competition of attendees down by Flat Branch.
If the stores didn't make enough money to their liking during the festival, attendees became patrons during other times. No telling how much business they lost from doing away with this family-friendly event and the "ill feelings" The District created among those of us who remember.
I guess the bars are doing well with liquor sales to the students and the fancy boutiques are making a mint thanks to Columbia's elite.
Others will take their business elsewhere.

(Report Comment)
dave smith December 30, 2011 | 4:56 p.m.

I've heard there are 500 free passes given out to organizations. Just make those more easily available to the needy. Everything can not be free. Tickets can be had for $8 and I think children under 8 get in free. It's less than most movies-wait,let's make movies free too...

(Report Comment)

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