For years I've been hearing about the tradition of "First Night"- when a whole community comes together for an alcohol-free, family friendly New Year's Eve celebration. It started in Boston about 15 or 20 years ago, and now hundreds of towns have them. Usually, there will be an opening parade, closing fireworks, and in between events of all kids, hosted at dozens of venues - churches, schools, bank lobbies... there are dances, fun runs, magicians and jugglers, music of all kinds. You get the idea - a place to celebrate the passing of the year where you can bring your kids (and parents), avoid the wild drinking, and do it as part of something larger than yourself and your private circle of friends.
I've always wished someone would do one around here. This year I decided it had to happen, and my community center would host and organize. We got a late start so it was small, plus we found out we couldn't call it First Night without paying a steep licensing fee - way out of reach for a tiny town and organization like ours. (Hey, First Night people, maybe you could add a few more levels down near the bottom of your scale!) Despite our late start we were lucky enough to be able to book the Grumbling Gryphons children's theater group, MaTica Arts, and other fine performers, and the turnout was terrific, just what I'd hoped for. We'll do it even bigger and better next year!