Press-Republican

Out & About

December 26, 2013

Leader of the pack

First Night Burlington oldest celebration of its kind

BURLINGTON — First Night Burlington is the oldest celebration of its kind still standing after 31 years of keeping it fresh.

“We’re entering our fourth decade,” said Tom Ayres, the new executive director.

“We’re the oldest First Night celebration in the world. The original First Night was in Boston. The not-for-profit organization that ran that closed at end of April. It’s being run one more year by the City Parks Department. It’s not clear what the future holds. That leaves us as the oldest First Night organization in the world.”

Between 10,000 and 12,000 revelers will descend on the Queen City on Tuesday to ring in the new year. Between watching the blaze of fireworks at the Burlington Waterfront at 6 p.m. and midnight, they can enjoy 800 individual artists performing at 18 venues.

“All of those accessible with just a First Night adult and kid’s button,” Ayres said. “There are a couple of ticketed events that are over and above a First Night Button. It’s $4 a ticket. Those are typically the events that are the most in demand. It’s a way of guaranteeing access to them. We sell tickets to Circus Smirkus, the Vermont Youth Orchestra and Chorus, the Bluegrass Gospel Project and the House of LeMay, a drag cabaret and comedy troupe. Everything at First Night is family friendly. Unless your kids are very mature, avoid that one.”

Nearly a third of the acts are First Night Burlington first-timers including Kat Wright and the Indomitable Soul Band on the Flynn MainStage and the DuPont Brothers Band in FlynnSpace. Internationally acclaimed trumpeter Ray Vega and his hot-jazz band will also fire up the Flynn MainStage. Other notable newcomers include salsa standouts Afinque, Americana luminaries Michael Chorney and Hollar General, and Jamaican-rocksteady outfit Steady Bet.

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