Kid-friendly First Night ushers in the new year

Posted: January 2, 2013

The Winchester Star

ABOVE: Donna McCafferty (from left), Nikki Contrino and A.J. McCafferty welcome in 2013 in style at First Night on Cameron Street in Winchester. BELOW: Crowds fill the Loudoun Street Mall. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Jim Cruise, “The Spoon Man,” plays flaming spoons Monday evening while entertaining First Night Winchester attendees in the Chirst Episcopal Church sanctuary. (Photo by Scott Mason/The Winchester Star)
Fireworks explode behind the Joint Judicial Center after midnight as part of the First Night Winchester celebration.

WINCHESTER — Crowds in downtown Winchester bid a lucid goodbye to 2012 Monday night.

First Night, an alcohol-free celebration, took over the downtown with events ranging from concerts and clogging to a unicycle act.

The night culminated with the dropping of an 850-pound apple — made of steel and covered in red, white and green lights — at Cameron and Boscawen streets as the crowd danced and hooted and hollered.

Immediately afterward, fireworks lit up the night sky.

Mark Weeks and Beth Collingwood, who along with their three children eagerly awaited the apple drop shortly before midnight, thought the event was a perfect way to bring in the new year.

“It’s like a little Times Square away from New York City,” Collingwood said.

Jay Germeyer, who attended with his wife and five children, appreciated that the event was alcohol-free.

“It’s good for kids and teenagers,” said the Winchester resident. “It’s a nice, safe place to play.”

It was the city’s 26th year of celebrating the arts, the community and the start of a new year.

There were plenty of events to keep attendees entertained prior to the apple drop and fireworks.

Inwood, W.Va., resident Kathy Nations brought her daughter, Zoe Elizabeth, to see the unicyclist perform at Christ Episcopal Church Parish Hall on West Boscawen Street.

Zoe Elizabeth was chosen to assist the unicyclist with a few tricks and had so much fun, she tried to help through the entire show.

“I don’t want to leave,” she said after it ended.

Nations was happy to bring her daughter to First Night.

“You can’t take your kids to a lot of parties,” she said. “But this one, you can.”

A new addition to the lineup this year was the Waterford, Va.-based Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers, who drew an enthusiastic crowd to their first show at the First Presbyterian Church Social Hall on the Loudoun Street walking mall.

The group, wearing jingle taps on their shoes, clogged away to mostly Christmas music as the crowd clapped along.

“It’s sort of like hillbilly tap dancing,” said Mary Smith, the group’s lead choreagrapher.

It was a wonderful way to welcome the new year for Cyndy Montes, a Philadelphia resident who was visiting her daughter in Gore.

“I thought it was just fabulous,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to learn clogging.”

The show even inspired her to make a new year’s resolution on the spot.

“I’m going to look for a place to take classes once I get back to Philadelphia,” she said.

— Contact Conor Gallagher at cgallagher@winchesterstar.com