HAZLETON – Now that one major winter holiday is over, Hazleton officials would love to welcome folks from throughout the region to celebrate another one in their city.
Hazleton will have its seventh annual First Night Hazleton celebration beginning at 5:30 p.m. Monday, featuring new performance groups, artists and celebrities, as well as a few favorite acts and activities.
In 2001, Hazleton became a member of First Night International, joining nearly 200 communities across the country that provide non-alcoholic, family friendly New Year’s Eve entertainment and activities for area residents.
Admission buttons that cost $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens and children ages 8 to 14 ($10 and $5 if purchased the day of the event) allow access to all 10 downtown venues throughout the night.
And even if bad weather hits, folks shouldn’t let that deter them, as about 90 percent of the activities and shows are indoors, said First Night Hazleton coordinator Lena Kotansky.
The headlining act this year is Trans-Siberian Orchestra tribute band Twelve Twenty-Four, Kotansky said.
The 15-member regional group takes traditional Christmas melodies and combines them with the power of rock and classical music, using a blend of instruments including guitars, keyboards, drums, violins and cellos. The show will include moving lights, a laser and snow machines.
Kotansky is also excited that “Hell’s Kitchen” celebrity Jen Yemola, who won third place on the FOX reality show earlier this year, will give cooking demonstrations.
And for something totally different, master indoor kite flyers will perform flying demonstrations choreographed to music in the YMCA/YWCA auditorium.
There will be plenty of musical entertainment in addition to Twelve Twenty-Four.
Cartoon Johnny, a rock vocal group based near Washington, D.C., which is often mistaken for an instrumental band because of its extraordinary “vocal percussion” performances, will perform audience favorites as well as its original music.
Klingon Klez – a Klezmer band comprised of some of Philadelphia’s best-known jazz, funk and Dixieland musicians, will infuse a contemporary sound into what has been described as traditional “Jewish party music.”
Other musical acts will include various artists performing folk music – including anthracite folk music, a country band and a steel drum band.
And for dance lovers, Pennsylvania-based South American Folk Dance Troupe La Nota Casa de Danza will perform.
There will be a Punch and Judy show as well as magicians, comedians, face painting, a balloon artist and children’s activities.
Outdoor activities will include horse-drawn carriage rides, ice sculpting and a closing procession to an outdoor stage for a magic show before the evening culminates with fireworks at midnight.
For more information, visit www.firstnighthazleton.com.
First Night Hazleton Buttons are on sale in advance at The Laurel Mall Service Desk, Hazleton City Hall, the Greater Hazleton Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA of Greater Hazleton, the Greater Hazleton Senior Citizens Center and the J.J. Ferrara Performing Arts Center. Call 459-4947 for more information.
• Pre-plan your evening. Review the program guide and map on the First Night Web site and decide which activities and artists you will enjoy most. Be sure to have second and third choices.
• You must show your First Night Hazleton button for admission into all venues. Be sure to buy your button early to enjoy the discount price.
• Be flexible. If you cannot get into a performance, be spontaneous and switch to another venue that fits your schedule, as it beats standing in line or missing a new and exciting experience.
• Dress appropriately. Most performances are indoors. But visitors are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers with warmth in mind for travel between venues.
• Carpool with friends. All event parking is free.