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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

First Night celebrations more compact this year, but will still go out with a bang

The new executive director of First Night Spokane had one mission this year: bring people in from the cold.

Nanette Miller said she worked to figure out why some people never visited the downtown Spokane event to ring in the new year.

“The biggest thing was, they were cold,” she said. “Walking downtown was not appealing to them.”

So this year, First Night’s footprint will be smaller. The event has always sprawled through downtown, with multiple locations offering music, art and activities. Miller said many of the venues were pretty plain and not festive. She’s worked to change that, too.

“Enticing the senses is what you have to do,” she said.

She also signed up some bigger talent to come perform, including Bakin Phat and Sammy Eubanks at the Davenport Grand, the Tuxedo Junction Big Band at the DoubleTree Hotel and Wyatt Wood at the INB Performing Arts Center.

This year most of the locations are within a block of each other, with the exception of River Park Square and events inside Riverfront Park. Spokane Falls Boulevard will be closed between Stevens and Wall streets to allow for bonfires, food trucks and hot chocolate. The Ice Palace will be open (skate rental not included) and there will be free rides on the historic Looff Carrousel.

“We’re beefing up the event and making it spectacular instead of making it spread thin everywhere,” Miller said. “There’s still a lot to do. It’s just preventing the whole walking from venue to venue. The skywalk is there, so you don’t have to go outside if you don’t want to.”

Also new this year is the “adults only” party at the Davenport Grand for those age 21 and over.

“Everything else is all about families,” Miller said.

The night will close with fireworks over the Riverfront Park Lilac Bowl at midnight.

Sales of admission buttons have been going well and online sales are up, Miller said. The button will also get you free parking at the Riverpoint Campus green lot at 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. and a free shuttle ride to the downtown venues.

Miller is already making plans for next year, including adding more activities to Kids Night Out.

“We don’t want to change everything,” she said. “We are trying to keep some things the same.”