Columbia families celebrate New Year's at First Night event

Monday, December 31, 2012 | 10:41 p.m. CST; updated 12:28 p.m. CST, Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Families came out to enjoy First Night Columbia, which offered entertainment for all ages. The themes for the celebration were youth and guitars.

COLUMBIA — Dozens of families braved snowy weather to come together at the First Night event Monday. Together, they exercised, sang, made arts and crafts, formed drum beats and listened to music.

Jane Accurso, the executive director of the event, was upbeat, even after the weather forced her to cancel outdoor portions of the festival.

"My favorite part is throwing a huge party for the city I love," Accurso said. 

4 p.m.: Cyclextreme Bicycle Warehouse, 19 S 6th St.

5K Run/Walk

A trio of boys stood in the crowd of runners at the start of Monday's First Night 5K race.

Oliver Koenig, 8, his brother Henry, 11, and their friend Peter Muno, 11.

Despite the snow trickling down their cheeks and reddening their noses, the boys weren't discouraged. They were bundled in hooded sweatsuits and sneakers with their parents. The Koenigs' puppy, Mary, was zipped into a running stroller.

"I'm excited," Oliver said about his first race. "I want to keep up with my family."

They joined nearly 300 runners who turned out in the slushy weather to the annual New Year's Eve race. Cyclextreme on Sixth Street was the 4 p.m. start, and runners looped around Conley, Tiger Avenue to Champions Drive and back to the finish line.

Caleb Wilfong, 18, crossed the line first with a time of 15 minutes and 40 seconds. Nicole Mello, 17, won the women's division in 18 minutes and 20 seconds. Each won $100 toward a pair of shoes at Tryathletics.

"It was just a good workout," Mello said. "I just want to get my speed up and keep going."

Oliver, Henry and Peter made it to the end by alternating running and walking. 

"I was kind of cold, but it felt kind of good," Oliver said.

— Lindsey Miller

6:30 to 7:15 p.m.: Calvary Episcopal Church, 123 S. Ninth St.

Create and Celebrate Children's Art Area

When the first child walked into the community room at the Calvary Episcopal Church on Monday, Erin Carrillo, coordinator of the children's art activities, greeted him with a smile.

Wearing a crown decorated with a pattern of stars, she explained the activities in the art area — crown and streamer making, mask and button decorating, and a temporary tattoo parlor.

About 10 minutes later, four or five families came in, and two girls ran to the crown-making station.

"We've done the same crafts for a while, but some of the same kids come year after year, so that's reassuring," Carrillo said.

She had enough supplies for 500 to 750 children, but she expected a smaller crowd this year because of the fresh snow.

The bad weather didn't keep Jessica Kendrick from coming to the event with her daughters, Keelie, 5, and Gabriella, 2, who were attending for the first time. Two of their grandparents accompanied them.

Wearing a crown of rainbow-colored feathers, Keelie said she was going for a princess look. She would probably wear it for the rest of the night, her mom predicted.

"It's nice that they can do something to celebrate the new year by doing fun activities," Kendrick said.

Lauren Gatcombe 

6:30 to 10:15 p.m.: First Christian Church, 101 N. Tenth St.

Teen Venue

Little voices singing big songs started off the night at First Christian Church during First Night.

Searching, a mid-Missouri rock-pop band, opened the show with a crowd of at least four dozen surrounding the stage.

"This next song I wrote in three days because my mother told me to write a song … in three days," said vocalist Silas Luetkemeyer as he began to play bass guitar.

The quartet brings together Josh Warden, 13, on drums; Michael Hamilton, 13, on guitar and vocals; and the two Luetkemeyer brothers, Silas, 14, on bass guitar and vocals, and Sam, 12, on the keyboard and vocals.

During the 12-song set, the band played several covers including Hamilton's favorite, "Waiting on the World to Change" by John Mayer. The group also had the crowd clapping and singing along to "Tonight Tonight" by Hot Chelle Rae as their final song.

Searching played last winter at the same event, and said it's their favorite to show to play.

After a fan walked by and patted him on the shoulder telling the band they "killed it," Josh said, "It's pretty awesome after you get used to performing live."

The set was followed with performances by other young, local groups: Never Blue Avenue, Ross Menefee and Nine Dead Men.

Grant Hindsley

7 to 7:45 p.m.: Missouri United Methodist Church

Together with Drumming

Sally Burnley helped dozens of people find the beat at the Missouri United Methodist Church at First Night.

The drumbeats were erratic at first, but then Burnley took command, telling the participants when to start and stop. Slapping the tropical-colored drums with their hands, and tapping the floor with their feet, the members of the drum circle found a common rhythm.

Burnley is a member of a growing international movement called Together with Drumming with a mission to use music to unite people quickly and easily. She led the session at the Methodist church, one of at least 10 events in the building, including belly dancing, square dancing and science experiments.

"A drum circle is a way to bring a community together," Burnley said. "It's a nonverbal form of communication that unites people from different cultures as one group."

When Burnley raised her hands, the beat became louder, and when she lowered them, it softened. 

The youngest member of the drum circle, 3-year-old Nathan Bassett, didn't seem concerned about following the group's beat until Burnley came over to show him. After she stood beside him, beating the group rhythm on his drum, he began hitting the drums faster and harder. 

"I wanted a place for him to experiment with noise," his mother, Cindy Bassett, said.

— Robert Swain

7 to 11:30 p.m.: First Presbyterian Church, 16 Hitt St.

Rock Venue

Mark Canestraight, the bassist for the classic rock band Arties Univibe, has played bass guitar for only 11 weeks.

"It's never too late for rock 'n' roll," he said. He will turn 55 on Thursday.

As part of the First Night celebration, Arties Univibe began their Monday night set at the First Presbyterian Church with a rendition of the Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling" on a stage with neon green and pink lights. They followed with songs by the Beatles and Neil Young.  

Canestraight, who works as a cook at Lucy's Corner Cafe, is learning bass from Tom "Artie" Lindsey, the band's leader. He practices two hours a day when he works at the cafe and four hours when he doesn't.

"In Artie’s lessons, you play perfectly and that's it," Canestraight said. "… You keep working and that's it."

Lindsey's daughter Melissa, 7, played the tambourine. "I only play for the early shows," she said.

The band ended their set by dedicating "Melissa," a cover of the Allman Brothers Band, to her.

Two other bands performed at the First Presbyterian Church venue during First Night — the Megan Boyer Band, a blues group, and Wild Cat Daddies, a garage rockabilly band.

Joe Aguirre, the drummer for the Wild Cat Daddies, said he usually plays at louder venues with lots of dancing, such as bars and parties. The church setting was more conducive to listening, he said.

"I don’t expect people to dance, but our music tends to make people move forward," he said.

As the band played, more than four people were holding each other's hands, dancing.

— Ayano Shimizu

8:45 to 9:30 p.m.: Missouri Theatre Center for the Arts, 203 South 9th St.

Acoustic Americana featuring Flatpick Guitar

The entertainment theme of this year's First Night — "It's All About the Guitar" — showcased fiddle player Gretchen Priest-May and the acoustic Americana trio of Brad Davis, Dan Miller and Tim May.

Davis is known for his work on Warren Zevon's last album, "The Wind," which earned him a Grammy Award. Miller is editor and publisher of Flatpick Guitar, a magazine for acoustic guitar enthusiasts. May has been selected as the best instrumentalist by Nashville Scene Newspaper's Best of Nashville 2012 Readers' poll.

Priest-May, who played with the trio, founded the Musical Heritage Center of Middle Tennessee in 2008, which offers lessons in classical, traditional and jazz music.

Davis started the performance by saying the trio is excited and grateful to play at the Missouri Theater for the Columbia audience.

"What a neat town you guys have here," Davis said.

Newton Dsouza came to the trio's performance because he enjoys guitar music.

"The theme is 'It's all about the guitar,'" Dsouza said. "We like listening to the flatpick guitar, and we are having fun here."

Marty Burke, who was working as an usher, lives in Iowa, but when her friend asked her to come to volunteer for First Night, she was ready to help out.

"I think it's great to see a community come together for an event like this," Burke said. "It's also a non-alcohol, family-oriented event. It's very good."

— Heesu Lee

7:00 to 9:00 p.m.: Columbia Art League, 207 S. 9th St.

Elliot Vollet, 5, danced to old-time banjo music Monday night at the Columbia Art League gallery.

“I like it because it sounds good,” Elliot said. He came to the gallery with his parents and brothers and sisters.

About a dozen people came to the gallery to listen to three bands playing as part of the First Night celebration. They tapped the beat with their hands and feet in time with the rhythms of the music.

Randall and Rebecca Smith came to the gallery to listen to banjo music.

“I don’t have any worries and I am feeling younger,” Rebecca Smith, 64, said.

“They are playing the music from 1843,” Randall Smith said. “This is American music.”

“It’s kind of an emotional experience; (I) enjoy the opportunity to play with people and by myself,” said Columbia banjoist Joel Zemmer, who played at the event. “It’s a good use of time and energy. It’s a rewarding use of time.”

Zemmer said his music is based on a fusion of 19th century and 20th century music.

“The tunes I like to play are more obscure than the tunes other people would play,” Zemmer said. “I have different taste from other musicians.”

Pippa Letsky, who hosts High Lonesome Sound, a radio program on KOPN, played fiddle with Zemmer and guitarist Heinrich Leonhard.

“I love playing with these guys,” Letsky said. “Joe and Heinrich are among the finest old time musicians.”

— Unho Yi

Supervising Editor is Jeanne Abbott.


Like what you see here? Become a member.

Show Me the Errors (What's this?)

Report corrections or additions here. Leave comments below here.

You must be logged in to participate in the Show Me the Errors contest.


Leave a comment

Speak up and join the conversation! Make sure to follow the guidelines outlined below and register with our site. You must be logged in to comment. (Our full comment policy is here.)

  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Don't use language that makes personal attacks on fellow commenters or discriminates based on race, religion, gender or ethnicity.
  • Use your real first and last name when registering on the website. It will be published with every comment. (Read why we ask for that here.)
  • Don’t solicit or promote businesses.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report comment" link.

You must be logged in to comment.

Forget your password?

Don't have an account? Register here.