January 1, 2013 in City

A family ring to it

Youngsters get New Year’s Eve fun off to enthusiastic, guileless start
By The Spokesman-Review
Tyler Tjomsland photoBuy this photo

Sporting a “Happy New Year” visor, Grace Hewa, 5, of Spokane, checks out the handmade headgear of volunteer Amber Arbanas, 19, of Spokane, at the children’s craft booth during First Night activities on Monday at the Spokane Convention Center.
(Full-size photo)

The littlest revelers kicked off the New Year’s celebration Monday for Spokane’s First Night, themed “Across the Universe: Year of the UFO.”

Eric Paine looked on as his daughter, Millie, drew Happy 2013 on the chalk wall before heading into the magic show at the Spokane Convention Center.

“It’s a great community resource, and a great way for families to get together for a fun night,” he said. “Who doesn’t love aliens?”

His daughter added, “I like it a lot.”

Organizers expected at least 35,000 people for First Night festivities despite temperatures in the low 20s.

The celebration’s 12th year included a couple of new acts, such as a hypnotist and a troupe performing cowboy rope tricks; an interactive exhibit, Bopping Heads, where people’s heads were superimposed on dancing and singing celebrities’ bodies; and new magicians.

The amusement, spread among 21 venues downtown, also included a variety of music, visual artists and dance performances as well as the always popular balloon sculptures.

“There’s a ton of eclectic entertainment,” said Lona Barnum, First Night’s executive director.

Coulee City, Wash., resident Jennifer Schwartz brought her two daughters to First Night for the second year in a row.

“We get a hotel room and stay the night,” she said. Her 5-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, stood nearby donning a crown made of previous First Night buttons. “It’s pretty inexpensive fun, and it’s safe, and it’s something warm to do.”

Kids had a variety of activities to choose from at the Convention Center, including more than a dozen crafts, face painting, meeting aliens and a variety show.

Joelle Gere and her three children are regulars at the festivities, she said. “It’s a good family way to celebrate.”

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