PHOTO BY SCOTT EISEN
Acrobat Li Liu performs at Swampscott’s First Night festivities Saturday. More photos on Look!, page A8.
By ADAM SWIFT
SWAMPSCOTT — Nearly 500 people turned out for the town’s inaugural First Night celebration at Swampscott High School Saturday and given the reaction to the family friendly event, no one expects it to be the last.
First Night Swampscott is an idea that’s been in the works for some time, according to Danielle Strauss, recreation director.
“When my kids were really young, we would have to pack them in the car and bring them into Boston for First Night,” said Strauss. “I really felt that there should be no need to do that and that we could do something in Swampscott.”
With an expanded event’s budget for the recreation department this year, Strauss said the first thing on her to-do list was to take First Night Swampscott from an idea to a reality.
Saturday’s event ran from 2-6 p.m., with arts and crafts projects, a photo booth, a balloon drop and well-received performances from Chinese acrobat Anna Lee, magician Mike Bent with his AbraKidabra show and the Rainforest Reptile Show.
Bent had his young crowd laughing and oohing and ahhing in amazement as he put his own spin on some magic classics (the quarter behind the ear gag), and seemed surprised by his own powers to make the peanut butter and the jelly containers switch places.
Swampscott resident Donald Waugh and his daughter Hannah, 3, were busy at the arts and crafts table in the cafeteria.
“She’s extra excited about the animal show, and about the arts and crafts,” said Waugh. “There’s a great sense of community, getting everyone together.”
Marblehead resident Kevin Hayden agreed that First Night Swampscott, with the attendance heavy on children and young children, was a great way to bring New Year’s fun closer to home.
“There are lots of family friendly activities indoors,” he said. “It’s great to see the support from the community and to see friends and be social.”
Strauss said she was happy to see a good turnout for the event.
“It’s a great way for a family to spend an afternoon for New Year’s Eve,” she said. “The turnout has been great.”