Alexandria’s Family-Friendly First Night to Close Out 2012 With a Bang


No beer, Cavalier: A bright, booming fireworks display will wrap up the event once again, proving you don’t need alcohol to have your senses impaired. (M.V. Jantzen via Flickr)

Want a family-friendly way to ring in the new year?

You could do a lot worse than throwing your lot in with First Night Alexandria, a multifaceted New Year’s Eve event. We covered this thing last year and have decided to do it again.

First Night debuted in Boston in 1976 as an alternative to drunken, end-of-the-year revelry, and it has since spread all over the United States. According to their website, there are two more of these nearby, one in Fredericksburg and another one in Talbot, Md.

But local apartment renters will want to visit the Alexandria celebration. Of course, you’re free to travel to Europe for the new year; I won’t think any less of you.

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This festival features an alcohol-free dispensation, which makes it unique among New Year’s Eve festivals, other than ones taking place in no-frills religious communities. Whatever floats your virgin eggnog. I’m not here to judge, merely to relay “timely and pertinent information tailored to renters in the Washington, D.C., area.” And yes, that was a joke.

There is a lot going on at First Night Alexandria, as this schedule of events makes clear. There will be “more than 100 live performances throughout Old Town Alexandria,” all capped off with “a spectacular fireworks display on the Potomac River!”

And you know that people never lie on the Internet, so it’s gotta be spectacular!

As this map shows, this is a spread-out event. So what will you see there? Food trucks, for one. There will also be music, with roots rockers The Grandsons, the all-male a cappella sounds of The Stairwells, folk-rock chanteuse Nicole Belanus, the Susan Jones Jazz Quartet and, back again this year, the Johnny Cash-inspired Folsom Prisoners. A gander at the event list and you’ll probably find some type of music that will float your boat.

Being a kid-friendly shindig, there’s quite a few activities to entertain the children too. Back again this year is Storytime with Miss Megan and Mike Rose, the “Magic Kinda Guy.” There’s also face-painting and balloon sculptures for the wee ones.

And how can we leave out the fourth annual Fun Hunt taking place from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.? We can’t. Look at the site for a detailed explanation of this scavenger hunt.

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Badges (event passes) for those 12 and up go for $15 before December 17, and $20 after; $25 will score a badge plus a ticket to catch (guaranteed seating) Scottish fiddler Bonnie Rideout in her one-time festival appearance at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at 7 p.m. Kids under 12 and active military with ID get in for free (military members, just show your active ID at any participating venue).

Of course, this day-long party all culminates in the finale: fireworks on the Potomac River. The King St-Old Town Metro stop on the Blue/Yellow Line is right on the cusp of things.

There are sponsors galore for this extended soiree, including the City of Alexandria, Alexandria Times and Wells Fargo Advisors.

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Scott D

Scott D

Scott is a local writer and has been with the Apartment Showcase blog since its inception in 2010.

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