Thursday, December 19 | Submitted by Leslie Forrester, Executive Director of SRAC | Downtown Central
First Night presented by Phoenix Home Care, Springfield’s annual alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration, continues for its 24th year with activities planned throughout the evening of Dec. 31, culminating with midnight fireworks at Jordan Valley Park to ring in 2014.
The evening’s timetable and venues have changed this year to provide more activities during the busiest parts of the evening. New venues will offer music and art to draw more young people to participate, in addition to the families who return every year for children’s activities and family friendly performances.
Everyone attending First Night is encouraged to visit www.firstnightspringfield.org to review this year’s schedule. Advanced ticket prices are $8 per individual or $30 for a family four pack. Prices at the venues on First Night increase to $10 for individuals and $35 for a family four pack. Children three and under are free.
Advance tickets are available at the following locations: Kum & Go Convenience Stores; The Library Center; The Library Station; Park Central Library; Brentwood Branch Library; The Creamery Arts Center; and Urban Districts Alliance office.
In addition to the Countdown to 2014 fireworks finale beginning at 11:30 p.m. in Jordan Valley Park, the featured performance highlights earlier in the evening at the Gillioz and Fox theaters include Mark Bilyeu and Cindy Woolf, The Skinny Improv, musician and singer Candy Coburn, the popular Little Hoover’s Big Band, and the return after many years of Smith and Smith performers Todd and Ali Smith.
Along the Boonville Avenue Corridor north of Park Central Square, the ideaXfactory will feature interactive neon art and art of space installations indoors and outside while the nearby Lemondrop will host local musicians and art exhibits. The new and nearby Arts & Letters venue on Campbell Avenue will offer French-themed music, art, a photo booth, and food from The Aviary Café’s food truck.
Returning favorites include the Discovery Center, the YMCA, 1984, free ice skating at Mediacom Ice Park and humor, magic and poetry at the Park Central Branch Library.
Free shuttle service among the venues is sponsored by Rick’s Automotive and will make stops approximately every 10 minutes along the route, which is included in the map provided with tickets and on the website.
Thanks to presenting sponsor, Phoenix Home Care, the other major sponsors, site sponsors, and Friends of First Night, Springfield’s celebration will continue despite the national First Night organization’s financial woes. The nation’s original celebration in Boston to reverted to the city of Boston after facing cancellation. In all, some 50 cities are continuing their First Night traditions this year, compared to a high of about 200 in the late 1990s.
The major event sponsors for First Night Springfield 2014 include Phoenix Home Care, Midwest Family Broadcasting, KSPR TV, the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, Community Foundation of the Ozarks, the Festival of Lights, the Springfield Regional Arts Council, and the Urban Districts Alliance.
Net proceeds from First Night Springfield benefit the Springfield Regional Arts Council, which provides a variety of programming and resources for the arts community in Springfield and the southwest Missouri region. The event is managed for the SRAC by the Urban Districts Alliance, which supports and promotes downtown Springfield.
The SRAC, incorporated in 1978, connects people and the arts. It supports some of the most prominent visual, performing, literary and film/media arts organizations and artists within 27 counties, the largest outreach of any in the state of Missouri. The current mission of the SRAC is to transform lives and enrich our Community through the Arts. The SRAC also manages The Creamery Arts Center, which houses the offices of the SRAC, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Springfield Ballet, Springfield Regional Opera, Springfield Community Center and Care to Learn, as well as a board room, classrooms, arts library, exhibition hall, film editing bays, shared costume and set design shops managed by the Springfield Little Theatre and instrument storage.