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Opinion >  Column

Front Porch: There’s a first time for everything

I don’t like change. It’s hard for me to let go of the familiar and embrace something new. Perhaps that’s why New Year’s Eve has always been my least favorite holiday.

In addition, there’s often so much pressure to see the old year out in a spectacular way. That hasn’t always worked out well for me.

As a teen and young adult, some of the most miserable dates of my life occurred on New Year’s. One fellow’s idea of fun was taking me to his elderly parents’ home to watch bowling on television. That was followed by actual bowling. When the clock struck 12, I dropped my ball on his foot – accidentally, of course.

When Derek and I married we created our own traditions. As our family grew, those traditions evolved into staying home and stocking up on movies and snacks. At midnight we’d go to our front door and shoot off tons of party poppers that streamed confetti over our snow-covered lawn.

But then the kids got older. Staying home with mom and dad lost its appeal. They had their own miserable dates to create.

This year when I knew there’d be just three of us celebrating, I decided it was time to do something drastic. Something totally unlike me. Something involving crowds and public transportation. It was time to make our first appearance at First Night Spokane.

To say I’m slow to jump on the civic events bandwagon might be an understatement. I still haven’t participated in a single Bloomsday. But 11-year-old Sam wanted some New Year’s fun, and I thought the First Night might be just the ticket.

Friends shook their heads. “You’ll freeze your eyeballs out,” they said. “You’ll be crushed by marauding mobs of merrymakers!”

When this didn’t deter me they added this warning: “You’ll have to wear a silly hat.”

This did give me pause. But I’d already purchased our buttons.

So, at 6 p.m. we bundled up and set off on our adventure. We took advantage of the free parking and shuttle service and soon found ourselves at the INB Performing Arts Center. As we settled into our seats for the Variety Show, I remarked that none of us showed signs of frostbite.

And what a show it was! Daniel DaVinci entertained us with his hilarious juggling antics. “He even looks funny,” said Sam. “He’s got a puffy head!”

Then the Hot Shot Tappers, fresh from their stellar run on America’s Got Talent, wowed us. And we got to see Bubblusionist Jarom Watts set a Guinness World Record for bubble bouncing.

“That show alone is worth $12,” Derek said as we left the auditorium.

Our next destination was right next door at the Convention Center where we watched Spokane’s own Blue Door Theatre Company. The cast of this improv group had us laughing so hard we could scarcely breathe. Sam especially enjoyed the interactive show.

All that laughter whetted our appetites. “Let’s see if we can get a table at O’Doherty’s,” Derek said. I’m sure the fact that the Zags were playing had nothing to do with his suggestion.

Bitter cold hit us as we walked down Spokane Falls Boulevard. But the cheery bonfires on almost every corner offered warmth. Ice sculptors creating amazing chilly works of art caught Sam’s attention. And live music across from Riverfront Park inspired us to stop and bust a few moves. Thankfully, Sam has not yet reached the age when it’s an embarrassment to dance with your mom.

To our astonishment when we reached the bustling Irish eatery, we immediately snagged a table and soon we were devouring piping hot fish and chips.

Next we took advantage of the city’s skywalk system to get to Crescent Court where we crafted our obligatory party hats. Our festive headwear garnered admiring glances as we grooved to the music of Six Foot Swing, and swayed to the tunes of Keeler, Melvin and Morse.

By then the midnight hour was drawing close and Sam wanted to take in the final performance of the Blue Door, so we hustled back to the Convention Center.

When the show concluded, Sam was still wide awake and didn’t want to miss the fireworks. We re-wrapped and re-layered and found spots along the banks of the river. Minutes later the clock struck 12 and a colorful cascade of fireworks burst and shimmered directly above our heads.

As the smoke settled over the river the appreciative crowd hooted and hollered as we hustled to catch the waiting shuttle buses.

Our maiden First Night adventure made me glad we’d tried something new. In fact, I think New Year’s Eve just might become my favorite holiday.

Contact Cindy Hval at dchval@juno.com.

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