Weather reduced First Night draw

But early button sales were higher than ever.
Wednesday, January 3, 2007 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:01 a.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

Despite weather that led to the cancellation of two scheduled fireworks displays, organizers said that First Night — Columbia’s alcohol-free, all-ages event to ring in the New Year — was a success.

“We sold more buttons during presales this year than ever before, but we had some problems with the weather,” said Karen Ramey, director of operations for First Night. “Winds were blowing into the square, so all the fireworks would have been blown toward people.”

Fireworks displays scheduled for 9:30 p.m. and midnight at the Boone County Courthouse were canceled, and some kids events were not highly attended, Ramey said. But about 12,000 people attended the event, she said, just under the estimated 12,500 who crowded downtown for last year’s First Night celebration.

“We had break-dancers this year, and they were a lot of fun,” Ramey said. “They brought a lot of people in.”

So did some new venues this year, Ramey said. Stephens College’s Windsor Auditorium was host to acts such as The Woodys and Henry Clay and the Hennessy Brothers. The auditorium was filled for a performance by Hilary Scott.

“Next year, we hope to improve, but we have some new challenges to face like where certain events will go and where to shoot off fireworks,” Ramey said.

The Missouri Theatre — First Night’s largest venue, with seating for 1,200 — will be under construction next year. Missouri United Methodist Church, at Ninth and Locust streets, has offered the use of a facility that holds about 400 people, Ramey said.

There is also a possibility that construction at the courthouse will force organizers to find another place for the fireworks displays, Ramey said.

“No matter what,” she said, “fireworks are always a ‘go.’”

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