UPDATE:

The spike in COVID-19 cases has resulted in the cancellation of a central Illinois New Year’s Eve event.

Officials with the Springfield Area Arts Council announced Wednesday that most of the activities connected with the annual First Night Springfield celebration have been cancelled.

Specifically, the events scheduled Friday at the Hoogland Center for the Arts and First Presbyterian Church have been cancelled.

The jazz performance at Boone’s will still take place, and a decision has yet to be made on whether the fireworks display downtown will take place.

ORIGINAL STORY:

If you're looking for a place to ring in the New Year, may I direct your attention to a historic town not far from here that's been counting down to midnight on December 31 for over three decades.

The Springfield, Illinois Area Arts Council hosts the 35th annual First Night Springfield New Year's Eve Celebration Friday, with activities for the kids beginning at 1 p.m. and partying for the big kids starting at 5:30 p.m.

Like so many such celebrations a year ago, First Night Springfield was virtual in 2020, but is back live this year with the action concentrated in four locations in the downtown area.

Karla and I attended First Night Springfield a number of years ago (we had an old friend who played in one of the musical groups). In those days, there were many more venues hosting events, but all were within reasonable walking distance, which is still the case.

First Night Springfield prides itself on being free and family friendly, but you should also keep in mind it is a fund raiser for the Springfield Area Arts Council, so they would appreciate it if you take advantage of any chance to make a donation.

The featured venues include:

Hoogland Center for the Arts, 420 South 6th Street - Free kids activities from 1 to 4 p.m. From 7 to 11 p.m. there is a variety of entertainment, from improv to magicians, folk dancers to a barbershop quartet, and more.

Boone's, 301 West Edwards Street - The Stone Cold Blues Band provides jazz from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. No cover charge.

First Presbyterian Church, 321 South 7th Street - A play called Watch Party will be presented at 6 p.m. to mark the observance of Watch Night, with organist and music historian Paula Romanaux at 7 p.m.

The official First Night activities are topped off with a free fireworks show at 11:15 p.m. at Capitol Avenue and 4th Street, guaranteed to be done in time for you to adjourn to the establishment of your choice to ring in 2022.

For more information on First Night Springfield, go to the Springfield Area Arts Council's website.

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