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Entertainment & Lifestyle

Sounds, sights of celebration at First Night Akron

12/26/2013 - West Side Leader
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By Kathleen Folkerth

Weddings and vow renewals will return to First Night® Akron, with the Akron Civic Theatre’s Grand Staircase used for that at 9:10 p.m. Those who are interested must preregister at the First Night Akron website and have an admission button. Shown is last year’s vow renewal.
The Mainstage will be set up on South Main between the Civic and Lock 3 Park and will feature two fireworks countdown shows. The children’s fireworks show will be at 9 p.m. and the second show will be at midnight.
Ready for fireworks at Lock 3 at First Night last year are, from left, Joseph Greene, Helen Greene, Jeff Greene and Melissa Greene, of Parma.
Photos: Dale Dong
DOWNTOWN AKRON — This year’s First Night® Akron will allow revelers to move with a local modern dance troupe, groove to the sounds of up-and-coming artists and enjoy a preview performance of a popular annual concert.

The 18th annual New Year’s Eve event, taking place Dec. 31 from 6 p.m. to midnight at nine Downtown Akron venues, features a slew of new activities and performers, as well as a few old favorites.

“We have several new or first-time artists performing,” said Sharon Gillberg, communications director for the Downtown Akron Partnership, which organizes First Night Akron.

One of the new attractions is an appearance by the Akron Symphony’s Gospel Meets Symphony Choir, performing at the Akron Civic Theatre from 6 to 7 p.m. and again at the Mainstage at 11:45 p.m., just before fireworks. Gillberg said the performance will serve as a preview of the popular annual show that will take place Feb. 15 at E.J. Thomas Hall this year. The choir will perform with a small group of musicians.

The choir will be followed by something completely different that organizers said they are also looking forward to — a performance by local duo Shivering Timbers.

“They’re an up-and-coming band discovered by the Black Keys, so they’ve got a buzz about them,” Gillberg said.

The band, made up of Sarah and Jayson Benn, will play sets at 7:15 and 8:15 p.m. at the Civic.

Another change this year is moving ice carving into the John S. Knight Center. Also at that site will be a disc jockey and karaoke.

Greystone Hall will feature a range of activities, from the sounds of the Akron Big Band to the opportunity to learn a few dance moves from members of Neos Dance Theatre. Both will take place from 6 to 10 p.m.

Simple Gifts also will perform its folksy, Appalachian sounds there and provide lessons on playing the spoons, Gillberg said.

First Night Akron will host for the first time Ohio Mobile Gaming. The company will bring its mobile video gaming theater to South Main Street, and gamers are welcome to enjoy playing popular titles inside the heated trailer.

Among the favorites returning to First Night are Hard Days Night, O’Hare School of Irish Dance, Alex Bevan, Wanda Hunt and Colin Dussault.

Weddings and vow renewals also will return, with the Civic’s Grand Staircase used for that at 9:10 p.m. Those who are interested must preregister at the First Night Akron website and have an admission button.

Other First Night venues are the Akron Art Museum, Akron-Summit County Main Library, Robert K. Pfaff METRO Transit Center, The Shoppes at Akron Centre, Summit Artspace and Zion Lutheran Church.

The Mainstage will be set up on South Main between the Civic and Lock 3 Park and will feature two fireworks countdown shows. The children’s fireworks show will be at 9 p.m., following a performance from Zobapago. The midnight fireworks will cap off the evening after a performance by fire entertainers the Ohio Burn Unit and the Gospel Meets Symphony Choir.

Gillberg said volunteers are still being sought to help during First Night. Those who volunteer will receive a free admission button and can take one of two shifts to help in a variety of ways, from guiding visitors to introducing acts.

She also reminded those who are weighing temperatures in making their New Year’s Eve plans that METRO buses once again will make continuous loops around the First Night footprint. Most activities are indoors, she added.

First Night Akron admission buttons are $10, but there is no cost for children younger than 10 when accompanied by a button-wearing adult. Buttons are on sale at www.firstnightakron.org and also are available at Acme Fresh Markets, participating FirstMerit Bank branches, the Akron Beacon Journal customer service desk, the Akron Civic Theatre Box Office (across the street from the Civic on the first floor of the Ohio Building), Angel Falls Coffee in Highland Square, Carolyn’s Cupboard in Wadsworth, Gasoline Alley in Bath, The Library Shop on Main, Lock 3 and NOTO Boutique.

Buttons also may be purchased at the Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) office in Greystone Hall, 103 S. High St., on the fourth floor. The evening of Dec. 31, admission buttons will only be available at Acme Fresh Markets until 8 p.m. and at the Akron Civic Theatre and The Library Shop on Main in Downtown Akron. The buttons provide admission to all event sites and METRO rides to venues.

For additional information, call 330-374-7690.

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