Hot Happenings at First Night

Hot Happenings at First Night


It’s cold outside, but you can warm up with some hot bands and other activities to help ring in the new year at Rockford’s First Night 2002, on Dec. 31.

The 2002 kick-off of the 11th annual First Night starts with Kids’ Countdown at 6 p.m. at Riverfront Museum Park.

During the evening, a variety of attractions will be offered in the River District. Come to the Cabaret! Enjoy a gala dinner/dance at the Coronado Theatre from 6 to 9 p.m. Enjoy the music of the 1930’s musical Cabaret in the grandeur and opulence of the refurbished Coronado Theatre. The Jodi Beach Trio will entertain you. Feast on scrumptious hors d’oeuvres and an elegant dinner by Masterpiece Creations. Dance to the music of the Gardenia Big Band just steps away at Memorial Hall, or enjoy other First Night favorites. (Advance tickets are required for this event: $35 per person, includes First Night admission button; call 963-6765.)

Get your “Passport” (First Night button) and travel with us “Around the World” at the First Night Ethnic Village, located in the Morrissey Building, North Main & Mulberry streets. Festivities take place from 6 to 11:30 p.m. Stop at the Leaning Tower of Pisa or “South of the Border” for Chili, Pizza by the Slice or steaming Cappuccino, and top it off with fabulous Mediterranean Baklava and Cannoli. Listen and dance to the strains of Cono LaLoggia, the Cardenas Brothers featuring Armando Cardenas, the exciting East High Folkloric Dance Group!

Get down and boogie with Sound Explosion DJ Service at the Groovy Times Disco Nightclub in the Zeke Giorgi Building, 200 S. Wyman St. from 7 to 11:30 p.m. Hear the grooviest hits from the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. Contests! Prizes! Bring your friends!

“Rock Around the Clock” with the high-energy R&B sounds of the Missing Links and the biggest hits of the ’60s-’90s at the Rock ‘n Roll Cafe, from 6 to 11:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan, corner of State and Main streets. Go back to the decade when rock ‘n roll made its debut!

Feeling creative? Try the Hands-on Art & Magic at the MetroCentre (upper level) from 7 to 11 p.m. Join in the tradition as you create masks, noisemakers and adornments for the countdown to midnight! (There may be a minimal charge for some materials.) Marvel at the magic of Brian Holt with a magical extravaganza full of mystery, humor and audience participation from 8:30 to 9:15 p.m.

Special headliners include the Cycropia Aerial Dance Company, the Najwa African Dance Corps, Natalie Grant, Bruce and Loren Hecht, the Kantorei Singing Boys of Rockford, Kraig Kenning, Cono LaLoggia Trio, and the Tom Mac Group.

Local and stateline poets compete in Youth, Adult and Audience Improv categories for prizes at Gentle Poetry Slam III. The Rockford Writers’ Guild will feature prose & poetry readings, and Universoul performs a unique blend of poetry and spoken word with musical accompaniment. It’s from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Stewart Square, 115 S. Main Street.

The Teen Band Bash takes place from 7 to 11 p.m. at the MetroCentre Arena (lower level). The Gospel Jam Showcase is performing from 6 to 10 p.m. at the Victorious Christian Worship Center, 515 N. Main St., featuring the Ministry of Music and other special guests. The Gospel Showcase will conclude with a Praise and Worship Service at 10:30 p.m.

Slide into the Riverview Ice House for the Ice Show presented by the Figure Skating Club of Rockford from 6 to 11 p.m. Free admission with a First Night button for the public skating session from 8 to 11 p.m. Skate rentals are available for a $2 fee.

At 9 p.m., gather around for “Fire and Ice” as a specially created ice sculpture is ceremoniously ignited to create a kinetic art form of solid mass to liquid combined with the movement and sounds of fire. A First Night favorite!

Don’t miss the Pyrotechnic Countdown Spectacular at 11:30 p.m. in the MetroCentre Arena. Greet the New Year with a parade led by the City of Rockford Pipe Band with its stirring Highland music, featuring powerful piping and drumming. Watch the special indoor pyrotechnic fireworks display to usher in the New Year!

For more information on where to obtain buttons, call the Rockford Area Arts Council at (815) 963-6765. Or check the website,

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