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First Night ushers in happy new year

1/2/2014 - South Side Leader
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By Kathleen Collins

DOWNTOWN AKRON — The 18th annual First Night® Akron brought approximately 14,000 people to Downtown Akron to enjoy New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, according to officials from the Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP), which organizes the event.

Initial attendance figures are estimated based on the clicker totals of the venues, according to DAP officials. Complete attendance figures will be available today, Jan. 3, after collection of sales information is complete.

Ten downtown sites were filled with more than 80 artists and groups showcasing music, dance, theater and interactive and visual arts. Several new and engaging artists and activities made their debut, such as Shivering Timbers, Smokin’ Fez Monkeys and Ohio Mobile Gaming video game trailer. Annual favorites like Hard Days Night and O’Hare School of Irish Dance returned to entertain revelers of all ages.

The Mainstage was set up on South Main between the Akron Civic Theatre and Lock 3 Park and featured two fireworks countdown shows. The children’s fireworks show, shown below, took place at 9 p.m. following a performance from Zobapago. The midnight fireworks, shown above, capped off the evening after a performance by fire entertainers the Ohio Burn Unit and the Gospel Meets Symphony Choir.

For the second year, a collaboration of community voices participated with the crowd as part of the countdown finale show at midnight. Long-time supporter METRO RTA provided bus shuttles, keeping crowds warm while moving from venue to venue. Also, for the first time in a decade, the Akron Art Museum opened all galleries to First Night attendees, according to DAP officials.

— By Kathleen Collins

Photos: Dale Dong

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