Stephens College will open its doors to New Year’s Eve revelers for the first time as it and Columbia’s downtown prepare to host the 11th Annual First Night celebration.
The theme for the event, which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, is First Night Fever. Organizers say they expected it to attract a record crowd. First Night this year will feature more than 60 performances, art activities and other entertainment at 14 downtown locations.
First Night originated in Boston in 1976 and has since become an international event. The family-oriented festival was created to develop community, support Columbia-area arts and provide something different to do on New Year’s Eve, co-coordinator Karen Ramey said.
Entertainment includes jazz and bluegrass, Irish dance, flamenco, fiddle players, puppetry, magic and a bubble-wrap jump inspired by a First Night in Delray Beach, Fla.
“Each year the entertainment changes, and this year we have some amazing performers,” Ramey said.
As attendance at the event grows every year, coordinators have looked to new locations to accommodate everyone.
“We realized we needed to make expansions because in the past few years the venues have been packed and overflowing,” said co-coordinator Jane Accurso.
With the assistance of Stephens College, four new venues have been added to the map.
New to First Night will be a food court in Stamper Commons at Broadway and College Avenue on the Stephens campus. Additionally, the Helis Communications Center on the north side of campus will provide two auditoriums for entertainment.
A buffet-style dinner at Stamper Commons will run from 5 to 6 p.m. and include grilled chicken and roast beef; starting at 6 p.m., snacks will be on sale late into the evening. The cost of food is separate from the admission fee.
Buttons for the event are $7 and allow participants to enter any First Night venues, including a teen and children’s art venue.
“This is a marvelous opportunity to see such a diversity in entertainment for very little,” First Night board member Carolyn Oates said. “For $7, it’s almost less than a movie, it lasts a lot longer and some of these performances might be once in a lifetime.”
Those who want to attend can buy buttons at First Night venues the night of the event or beforehand at the Activities and Recreation Center, Streetside Records and Gerbes stores. A program containing maps, schedules and biographies is supplied with the button.
A children’s procession at 9:15 p.m. will close with a fireworks display, and a People’s Procession at 11:30 p.m. will end at the Boone County Courthouse with a midnight ball drop, fireworks and music. To ensure safety, special fireworks that cool before they hit the ground will be used, and planks will protect the top of the courthouse. Firefighters will also be present.
Other highlights include a 5K run/walk starting at 4 p.m. in front of Cycle Extreme at 19 S. Sixth St. and performances by the Japanese Bunkaru Bay Puppet Troupe and the St. Louis Osuwa Taiko drummers.
Columbia Transit will extend its regular bus hours for the event, Mark Grindstaff of the bus service said. Along with providing free shuttles to various points downtown, buses running their regular routes will provide late-night rides home at 12:45 a.m. from the Wabash Station, 126 N. Tenth St. The fee is 50 cents.
While some cities around the country have seen declining First Night attendance and support, Columbia’s participation continues to grow. “Our community is so embracing and understanding of the arts,” Accurso said. “Our city leaders and businesses are also very understanding, which helps generate the support.”
Last year’s event attracted nearly 10,000 people, but increased publicity statewide has Ramey expecting about 12,000 to attend this year, provided the weather cooperates. With Saturday’s forecast calling for 30-degree evening temperatures and no chance of snow or rain, Accurso said, “it’s looking good.”
FIRST NIGHT: SCHEDULED EVENTS
Doors open at 6 p.m. Receive full program with button purchase.
Information: 874-7460 (TYY 874-7565)
Alcohol- and smoke-free. See program for ASL venues.
HISTORIC MISSOURI THEATRE, 203 S. Ninth St.
6:30 p.m., Keith Jozsef — Magic
7:30 p.m., St. Louis Osuwa Taiko — Japanese drumming
8:30 p.m., Hilary Scott Band — Singer/songwriter
9:30 p.m., The Duel, Round II, Sutu Forte & Tom Andes — Jazz, classical, originals
10:30 p.m., Lost Bayou Ramblers — Cajun
WINDSOR AUDITORIUM IN HELIS COMMUNICATIONS CENTER, 1405 E. BROADWAY
6:30 p.m., Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe — Japanese puppetry
7:30 p.m., Martin Family Band — Bluegrass
8:30 p.m., Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe — Japanese puppetry
9:30 p.m., St. Louis Osuwa Taiko — Japanese drumming
10:30 p.m., Viva Flamenco — Kristina Martinez and Flamenco Dance Troupe
CHARTER AUDITORIUM IN HELIS COMMUNICATIONS CENTER, 1405 E. BROADWAY
6:30 p.m., America’s Favorite Poem Project — Host, Marta Ferguson
7:30 p.m., Tree Bop — CAT Public Access Children’s Theater Film
8:30 p.m., Greg Blair — Storytelling
9:30 p.m., Into the Spotlight: Four Missouri Women — Book readings by Margot McMillen, Heather Roberson
10:30 p.m., Kunama Mtendaji — Storyteller
STAMPER COMMONS, 1300 E. BROADWAY
5 p.m., Tom Lindsey — Solo guitar
Food Court opens for dinner
6:30 p.m., Deva Dancers — Bellydancing performance and participation
8 p.m., The Doxies — Alt-Country
10 p.m., Kansas City Streetband — Rockin’ Soul
WINDSOR LOUNGE IN THE UPPER LEVEL OF STAMPER COMMONS, 1300 E. BROADWAY
6:30 p.m., Kunama Mtenjaji — Storyteller
7:30 p.m., Barbara & Bernie McDonald — Irish
8:30 p.m., Ironweed with Kelly Jones — Bluegrass
9:30 p.m., The Martin Family — Bluegrass
10:30 p.m., Fiddle Fest — Host, Kelly Jones
PANERA BREAD CO., 102 S. NINTH ST.
7 p.m., Fiddling — Jordan Wax
8 p.m., Guitar — Steve Jerrett
9 p.m., Clawhammer Banjo — Joel Zemmer
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH, 1112 E. BROADWAY
6:30 p.m., Fiddling Missouri — Caller, Jim Thaxter, Old-time children’s dance
7:30 p.m., Lost Bayou Ramblers — Cajun dance
8:30 p.m., Fiddling Missouri — Caller, Jim Thaxter, old-time dance-mixed
9:30 p.m., Baitshop Boys — Hillbilly jazz
10:30 p.m., Artie’s Univibe — A tribute to classic rock, liquid light show
FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH, 101 N. TENTH ST.
6:30 p.m., Community Rhythm for Everyone
7:30 p.m., Van Hoose Family Band — Pop, jazz-dance
8:30 p.m., Barry Bernstein — Drum and singing, children’s procession begins in parking lot at 9:15 p.m.
9:30 p.m., Irish Dance — The McDonalds and Sessioners
10:30 p.m., Irish Dance — The McDonalds and Sessioners
BOONE COUNTY GOVERNMENT CENTER, 801 E. WALNUT ST.
7 p.m., Tai Chi — Demonstration and participation
8 p.m., Community Chant for Peace and Reading
9 p.m., Tai Chi — Demonstration and participation
7 to 10 p.m., Labrynth — Meditative path
ARMORY SPORTS CENTER-TEEN VENUE, 701 E. ASH ST.
6:30 to 11:30 p.m., Five teen bands
MISSOURI UNITED METHODIST CHURCH, 204 S. NINTH ST.
6 to 10 p.m., Children’s art area
11 p.m., Barry Bernstein — Playin’ in the Band
BOONE COUNTY COURTHOUSE SQUARE, BROADWAY AND EIGHTH STREET
9:30 p.m., Children’s finale: fireworks and bubble wrap
11:30 p.m., Finale begins: St. Louis Osuwa Taiko — Japanese drumming
Midnight, Pyroball drop and fireworks
COLUMBIA ART LEAGUE GALLERY, 111 S. NINTH ST.
6:30 to 10 p.m., Sales and exhibits
- Boone Hospital 5K Run/Walk, 4 p.m. at CyclExtreme, 19 S. Sixth St. (Registration required.)
- Horse-drawn carriage rides
- Columbia Transit bus rides
- Two processions 11:30 p.m., from the northwest corner of Broadway and College Avenue and from Ninth and Locust streets