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Sober doesn't mean somber

Dunedin's First Night, an alcohol-free celebration, will feature 23 performers on 10 stages, from circus acts to steel drum bands.

If you'd like to see 2000 change into 2001 with a quick kiss and a clear head you may want to check out Dunedin's First Night alcohol-free celebration on the city's picturesque brick Main Street.

From the disk jockey to the Madrigal Singers, roughly half the entertainment at the fourth annual New Year's Eve celebration is new, according to event co-chairman Bill Francisco.

"It's a pretty wide range of entertainment," he said. "We're trying to attract people of all ages. A family with little kids can enjoy it."

And he and other organizers wanted to keep the price as low as possible.

For $12 at the gate, you can see five hours of non-stop entertainment: performances will take place simultaneously at various venues, including churches, businesses, public buildings and on the street.

Anyone who buys a decorative souvenir badge will have full access to all the bands and clowns, plus the food court.

Francisco said the Dunedin Area Chamber of Commerce sold 4,000 badges last year. He said he expects a similar crowd this year.

Twenty-three acts are planned for the family-oriented event, including the Loomis one-ring circus. The small circus features exotic animals, clowns, acrobats, jugglers and trained dogs.

"It was popular last year," said Francisco.

The circus will share Main Street with DJ Grant Hemmond who will play music while the Beauvoir Society performs skits.

At Pioneer Park, the McIlroys will sing; in Sun Trust Park Joe Braccio will play steel drums. The Good Vibes & Happenstance Barbershop Group will entertain in the Sun Trust Bank building.

The Tampa Bay Early Music Consort and the Madrigal Singers will play at the Church of the Good Shepherd, while Jayne Margo-Reby sings in the Chamber of Commerce board room.

At the Dunedin Public Library, you'll find Glorious Brass and Theresa Sareo. At Schiller University, Ivan Garcia and the Starlights Latin Jazz Band will try and get the crowd dancing.

At First Presbyterian Church, Charlie Bill & the Morrisons, Florida Song Story and Beverly Carol will appear.

The site of the children's venue will be First United Methodist Church, where Wade Henry, Gabbie the Clown and Redstone Magic will help kids usher in the new year.

Because some venues are not within reasonable walking distance of Main Street, free shuttles will be available.

Free parking is available at Grant Field, the Senior Citizens Center, the Dunedin Public Library and the Dunedin Plaza.

Francisco has been watching the weather, and said "the forecast looks good" for New Year's Eve.

"It may be a little chilly," but after all, it is New Year's Eve, he said.

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