- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 27, 2003

First Night Annapolis may be celebrating the arrival of 2004, but the festival’s executive director is most enthusiastic about an ancient art form. “We are particularly excited about the mandala sand painting that will be a part of First Night this year,” Jennifer Krammes says. “These Tibetan monks are coming in to create a phenomenal piece of artwork out of sand. The practice dates back more than 20,000 years.”

The mandala sand painting is one of dozens of acts booked for Annapolis’ 14th annual New Year’s Eve festival. Last year, more than 20,000 people came out to ring in the new year at the family-friendly, alcohol-free celebration.

Annapolis’ evening begins at 4 p.m. with its First Act program, geared for children. First Act events are held at the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, 801 Chase St. Storytelling, music, an instrument petting zoo and other children’s entertainment will be featured. First Act will culminate in a mock midnight countdown at 7 p.m.

First Night Annapolis is hoping to attract more families than ever by distributing free admission badges to public school students in kindergarten through fifth grade, Ms Krammes says. With the help of sponsor M&T; Bank, First Night Annapolis was able to give out 30,000 admission badges valued at $10 each.

“For a family of four, free badges will represent a significant savings,” Ms. Krammes says. “The children need to come with an adult, but this is going to be great exposure for the kids.”

Other acts at First Night Annapolis include the Ballet Theatre of Maryland, the oldies group Big Cam and the Lifters, guitarist Eddie Brooks, the comedy-music act Danzig and Woolley, and American Indian dancer-choreographer Keith Colston.

First Night Annapolis will conclude with fireworks over the City Dock at midnight.

First Night Alexandria also has expanded its offerings this year. Alexandria has added a teen celebration that has been organized, staffed and produced by teenagers, says First Night Alexandria Executive Director Ann Dorman.

The teen celebration will take place at the Campagna Center at 418 S. Washington St.

Headliners at First Night Alexandria include Scottish fiddler Bonnie Rideout, the comedy-music troupe DaVinci’s Notebook and rockabilly singer Bill Kirchen.

“We’re really thrilled to have these acts,” Ms. Dorman says. “DaVinci’s Notebook got its start at First Night, but they have not performed here in four years.”

Alexandria’s evening begins at 6 with children’s events at Jefferson Houston School, 1501 Cameron St. The night concludes with midnight fireworks on the lawn of the Masonic Temple.

Historic Leesburg, Va., also will host a First Night celebration. More than 100 acts will perform at 20 venues around the city. There will be jazz, classical music, puppet shows, bluegrass and magicians. The evening will conclude with fireworks on the Courthouse Green.

When you go:

First Night is an alcohol-free, family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration that focuses on arts and entertainment. Each has a great variety of performers showcasing music, dance, storytelling and fine arts.

Annapolis:

First night events will be held at various locations around Annapolis, including the Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, City Dock and the Annapolis Recreation Center.

Buttons are $15 for ages 12 and older ($20 on Wednesday), $10 for ages 6 to 11, and free for ages 5 and younger. Anne Arundel County public school students in kindergarten through fifth grade can receive free admission buttons through their schools.

Buttons can be purchased at:

* Giant Food stores in Anne Arundel County, Columbia and Bowie

* What’s Up? magazine’s Web site, www.whatsupmag.com

* Horizon Organic Farm, Gambrills

* Crown Theatres in Annapolis Harbour Center, Eastport and Westfield Shoppingtown Annapolis

* Cafe Beaux Arts at Maryland Hall (801 Chase St.)

* Annapolis Visitor Center (26 West St.)

* First Night Annapolis Web site, www.firstnightannapolis.org

More info: 410/268-8553 or www.firstnightannapolis.org

Alexandria

Activities will be held at dozens of venues around Old Town, including the Torpedo Factory Art Center, Hilton Old Town and the Masonic Temple.

Parking: Many Colonial Parking garages will have free parking Wednesday. Free DASH buses also will run from the King Street Metro stations (Blue and Yellow lines) from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.

Hours: 6 p.m. to midnight.

Admission: $15. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Badges are available at several Old Town locations, including:

* Alexandria Red Cross (123 N. Alfred St.)

* A Likely Story (1555 King St.)

* Burke and Herbert Bank (100 S. Fairfax St.)

* Mango Mike’s (4580 Duke St.)

On Wednesday, badges can be purchased at the First Night Alexandria headquarters at the Embassy Suites Hotel, 1900 Diagonal Road. Admission badges also will be available at the entertainment venues when they open.

More info: 703/838-4200, Ext. 210, or www.firstnightalexandria.org.

Leesburg, Va.

Events will be held at 20 venues around downtown Leesburg.

Hours: 6 to 11:45 p.m. Grand illumination, 11:45 p.m. to midnight.

Parking: Streets in the Historic District will close at 5 p.m. There will be free parking on side streets and in the two large town and county downtown parking garages.

Admission: Buttons are $8, $3 for children ages 3 to 12. Children younger than 3 are admitted free.

Advance-sale buttons are available for purchase at:

* Loudoun Visitor Center (108-D South St. SE)

* Bluemont Concert Series (1 E. Market St., Third Floor)

* Leesburg Pharmacy (Virginia Village Shopping Center,

36-C Catoctin Circle SE)

* Loudoun Museum (16 Loudoun St.)

* Melodee Music, Leesburg (320 E. Market St.)

* TallyHo Theater (19 W. Market St.)

On Wednesday, buttons will be for sale beginning at 5 p.m. and continuing throughout the evening at First Night admission booths at King and Market streets.

More info: 703/777-6306 or www.bluemont.org.

Fireworks light up the sky during a past First Night Annapolis event. Below, the mandala sand painting is one of dozens of acts booked for Annapolis’ 14th annual New Year’s Eve festival. Last year, more than 20,000 people attended.

Fireworks light up the sky during a past First Night Annapolis event. Below, the mandala sand painting is one of dozens of acts booked for Annapolis’ 14th annual New Year’s Eve festival. Last year, more than 20,000 people attended.


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