Reptiles and Dinosaurs. LEGOs and Deadwood Dick. Knives and bullwhips.
What kid could ask for anything more on New Year’s Eve?
First Night Morris County 2014 is bursting with entertainment options for its 22nd season: More than 200 artists will give more than 80 performances in 24 Morristown venues on Dec. 31, 2013.
All age groups are covered, and that includes children. Thirteen acts cater to the younger set, and they will start early this year, at 5 pm, two hours ahead of other festivities.
Here is a video sneak peek, with Dr. Lynn Siebert of Morris Arts and Denise Schmidt of the First Night board. Students at the County College of Morris produced the piece.
FIRST NIGHT MORRIS COUNTY 2014
Morristown, Dec. 31, 2013
More than 80 acts at 24 venues;
Two fireworks shows, Free shuttle buses
Admission to all events: $20 through Dec. 21; $25 thereafter
Special packages, group rates available
REAL REPTILES, REAL ILLUSIONS
Face-painting, art projects and jugglers are perennial kid-pleasers at First Night Morris. And now Chinese puppets and robotic LEGOs are part of the mix.
Dinoman Dinosaurs are inflatable replicas of fearsome creatures… while Rizzo’s Reptiles are the real thing.
Then again, circus illusionist Benjamin Lipman will have small fry pondering what’s real…and what’s just plain hilarious.
Deadwood Dick should provide the evening’s inspiration. Rochel Coleman portrays Nat Love, a.k.a. Deadwood Dick, a black cowboy who escaped slavery in the 19th century to become a rodeo star. True story.
And then there is the ever-popular Mr. Fish, who aims to keep young viewers on the edge of their seats. He’ll be throwing knives and cracking bullwhips, after all.
“If you want to volunteer, think about it carefully beforehand!” quips Dr. Lynn Siebert, artistic programmer for First Night Morris County.
GROWNUP STUFF, TOO
High school students can compete for prizes in visual and performing arts. Competitors will submit videos of their work online, where the public will vote. Winners will be announced at 11:30 pm at Morristown High School.
First Night isn’t just for kids, however. Adults will find plenty of amusements, too. Music lovers can choose from bluegrass, classical, folk, jazz, rock and world genres. Dance, theater, comedy– a splendid time is guaranteed for all.
(Stay tuned to MorristownGreen.com: More video previews are coming!)
“First Night is an experience. You can’t really describe it. You can only experience it. There are so many performers, so many ways to make it special,” says Craig Schlosser, First Night director.
Group discounts are available, along with special overnight rates at the Hyatt Morristown.
Craig is part of a management team, led by Morristown High alumnus Michael Schmidt, which came aboard three years ago to put First Night back into the black.
It’s been a challenge. The budget was pared by $20,000 this year, to $155,000, thanks to volunteers willing to pick up the slack, and thanks to some 30 corporate sponsors, Craig says.
More than 500 people were polled after last year’s First Night. They asked for food services, and earlier programs for kids, according to Craig.
“People wanted it a little more special, with some new wrinkles,” he recounts.
And so, children’s activities will begin at 5 pm.
And for the first time, First Night Morris is offering a “Comfort Package.”
A $15 premium gets you into something akin to a pre-show party, starting at 5 pm in the Headquarters Plaza basement. Patrons can enjoy hot chocolate, snacks and photos before setting forth on their First Night adventures.
Another first: Hot dogs and pretzels will be sold throughout the evening, at Morristown High and on the Morristown Green.
If the weather cooperates, Craig says he is confident First Night Morris will top last year’s attendance of 4,600.
“We have some really cool acts coming in,” he says.