First Night: Families ring in the New Year

January 31, aka New Year's Eve, is typically a time of resolutions, kisses, a little bubbly, and a few other adult pastimes. In many towns, kids usually don't get a chance to have fun like the grown ups, but here in Charlottesville, they've found a way!

The 22nd annual First Night festival downtown went off without a hitch this year. It's been a while since I've participated in the action, and while some of the things appeared a little dull for a single mid-20s male, it certainly seemed like a great family event. Vendors on the Mall were selling noisemakers, goofy hats, and big flashing earring clips which even some adults were sporting.

Crowds enjoyed events ranging from Mr. Magic's Family Magic Show at the Jefferson Theater to skating at the Charlottesville Ice Park. The Mall bustled with throngs of cheery families and droves of teenyboppers. It's not often kids get to stay out late and not be bothered by curfew laws, and they were certainly living it up on the last night of the year.

At midnight on the clear and unseasonably warm evening, the crowd headed over to Lane Field for a mighty fireworks show. Though the code orange terror alert meant that police were highly visible, First Night provided another fun, happy way to welcome whatever the coming year has in store.

Skaters tried to stay upright.

Jamar Henderson, Mark Newman, Rita Ghartiy, James Gardener, and Erika Brown chilled outside the Jefferson Theater.

The 22nd First Night brought the crowds!

Joe Deacons tried to stay cheery with his joker hat.

The Free Union Farms Boys jammed out some good old fashioned bluegrass and country.

Mudhouse kept people awake and warm with tasty concoctions.