A tribute to the late artist William Woo, a giant game of Twister and a pint-sized DJ are just a few of the highlights this year as St. Petersburg prepares to celebrate its 20th year of First Night.
The family-friendly, alcohol-free activities offer a wide range of performances and visual arts designed to help ring in the new year in a safe environment.
With a $10 button that can be purchased at various venues around downtown St. Petersburg, First Night also features music acts such as hometown favorite Michael Lynche of American Idol fame and up-and-coming 14-year-old pop performer Macy Kate. She'll be joined on the stage by DJ BabyChino, a 10-year-old Las Vegas performer whose skills on the turntables are attracting major attention. (Will DJ Kitty join him?)
Over in the Plaza Courtyard at the Ale & Witch craft beer emporium, the theme will be Cajun, featuring the Gulfport Swamp Opera playing from 8 to 11 p.m.
The event, which got its start in 1993, is known for its visual pop and eclectic activities. Even the admission buttons are designed by an artist, and the supply is limited. Buttons are recommended to attend the music performances, and they also help offset some of the cost of the event, which relies on a large volunteer corps.
Fans also know to get there early for the bubble stomp, which can sometimes start somewhat randomly (around 8:45 p.m., according to the event's site). Also outside are a labyrinth to walk around, a bucket-drumming guy and the drum circle, and a bonfire, where people throw in their resolutions.
Here are some of the highlights of this year's event:
• Woo Aquarium: Several artists in the 600 block of Central Avenue have joined to light the way through Williams Park with tropical fish-themed lanterns to celebrate the life of St. Petersburg native and beloved artist Bill Correira Woo, who died recently.
• 20th Birthday Party: Local artist Jennifer Kucharik is creating a huge "birthday cake," sponsored in part by the DMG School Project. Partygoers will be invited to add a personal flair to the cake with materials provided by First Night. At the end of the party, people can join in as the cake is set ablaze. There will also be huge versions of two party favorites: musical chairs and a giant game of Twister.
• Banyan Tree Climbing: Pathfinder, an outdoor adventure and education program, allows people to safely experience the thrill of scaling the towering St. Petersburg landmark. For a bonus, while people wait, they can create their own "tree-aras."
The events, which are mostly within walking distance of each other, begin at 5 p.m. Monday. Fireworks are scheduled at 9 p.m. and midnight.