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Events set for big bash


By Josette Keelor

First Night Winchester has announced its festival plans for this New Year's Eve in downtown Winchester.

At a press conference Friday morning at The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, Felicia Hart, executive director of First Night Winchester, addressed events planned for the 27th family friendly, alcohol-free New Year's Eve celebration on Dec. 31 that "turns all of Old Town into a stage."

New activities will join past favorites leading up to the apple drop finale at midnight, and even area restaurants plan to spice things up this year.

As part of the new First Taste of Winchester, many downtown eateries will be open late, and Boy Scouts of America Troop 9 will bring back its First Bite pancake breakfast at the Market Street United Methodist Church.

The Winchester Artist Market, organized by Dharma Yoga Studio in partnership with First Night Winchester, will feature artists demonstrating their talents and selling their products.

The first Family Fun Fair will take place at the Church of Winchester in the Godfrey Miller Pavilion, and the city trolley will pick up and drop off any festivalgoers, even those without event buttons, at various locations downtown.

Those who pay to attend First Night will receive a button that allows entrance to all activities and shows. Admission also includes daytime entrance to The Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, which will host a coloring contest that day.

Downtown, The Blue Ridge Singers will perform a variety of musical styles, and The Blue Ridge Thunder Cloggers and Brass 5 will return as entertainers.

Bubble Trouble's Jeff Boyer will make a bubble volcano and roller coaster, and Glitterbugz and JohnnyO will paint faces and make balloon creations.

Other performers will be the Classic String Duo, magicians Uncle Bean and Kevin Owens, strings player Mean Mary, the Robbie Limon Band, The Spoon Man, Steve Conover, Sunshine and the Rainmakers, the Valley Chorus, the Yaretzi Dancers and the Yesterday Swing Orchestra.

The Youth Development Center will return as an event partner, offering its Teen's Got Talent Show and other activities; and the Model Railroad Club of Winchester and Reptile World will entice children of all ages to stay and watch the show.

Hampton Thomas will provide the music for street dancing, and Barry Lee of WINC FM will host the annual Apple Drop and fireworks finale beginning at 11:45 p.m. at the intersection of Cameron and Boscawen streets.

Buttons are $10 each and will be available for purchase in advance at the Apple Blossom Mall service desk, the Bank of Clarke County's Loudoun Street branch, the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, The Old Town General Store, Wilkins' Shoe Center, the Winchester-Frederick County Visitors Center, the Winchester Medical Center Auxiliary Gift Shop in the old Winchester Hospital and at the Winchester Medical Center, and on Dec. 31 at 33 E. Boscawen St., from 5 to 11 p.m.

For more information, call 540-533-5561 or visit firstnightwinchester.com.

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com


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