First Night 2011: Hub ready to ring in New Year with style

BOSTON ? Ice sculptures, theater, dance and a grand procession are just a few of the highlights of the 35th annual “First Night Boston,” an all-day event Dec. 31 leading up to fireworks at midnight to ring in the New Year.Founded in 1976, First Night was the brainchild of a small group of artists who sought an alternative to traditional New Year’s Eve revelry. The family orientated non-alcoholic celebration has grown from a small arts event on the Boston Common to a citywide cultural and artistic celebration, which attracts more than a million visitors.The celebration kicks off at noon on Dec. 31 and features more than 1, 000 artists and performers in 200 exhibitions and performances at more than 35 locations throughout Downtown Boston.If you plan on attending, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes and pick up the First Night guide. Take the time to plan out the activities and performances, as events take place simultaneously at multiple venues.The FedEx Family Festival at the Hynes Convention Center offers something for everyone from 1n5 p.m., with live performances, face painting and interactive exhibits including Fluxusignment 57: A Bicycle Powered Puppet Theater.The Grand Procession has been the heart of the First Night celebration since tits inception. This year the them is “Blast Off Boston!” The procession will consist of four themed-sections, all having to do with our world, the planets and space. The Grand Procession steps off at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Hynes Convention Center and will proceed down Boylston Street, turning left on Charles, and end at the intersection of Charles and Beacon streets.Ice sculptures are a major feature First Night and there will be five at various locations throughout the city, three on Boston Common and two in Copley Square.Donald Chapelle of North Andover is sculpting an Orca on Boston Common by the Brewer Fountain. At Frog Pond, Steve Rose is sculpting “The Passage of the Delaware” depicting General George Washington’s surprise attack on Christmas Night, 1776, crossing the ice-clogged Delaware River.Rose is also sculpting “First Night Frogs” at the Boston Common TADpole Playground.Eric Fontecchio and Alfred Georgs of Brookline Ice look to the past and future with two ice sculptures in Copley Square. The duo said Pharaoh’s Egypt would fill one side of Copley Square and on the other side they are carving something inspired by the spacey artwork by Scott Listfield, which is on this year’s First Night button.In addition to these and other great events, First Night will also feature Japanese Anime; Kaiju Big Battel; Bollywood Film and Boston Family Fireworks, the traditional midnight fireworks over Boston Harbor with a midnight countdow from Copley Square.If You Go?Admission is free to all outdoorFirst Night events. To attend indoorevents, you need to purchase aFirst Night button. Buttons are $15 and areavailable online at www.firstnight.org/button/. Buttons are $18 at retail locations, whichinclude Tedeschi’s Food Stores, Au Bon Pain,Borders Books and iParty. The Web sitealso includes a comprehensive scheduleof venues and events.

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