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The First Night concept was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1976 as a finale to the city's bicentennial events. The first event in the Tri-Cities was held on December 31, 1996. The events continue to demonstrate the spirit of how the Tri-Cities can come together and produce an event that provides so many opportunities for each of us.

First Night Tri-Cities is an alcohol-free, family-oriented celebration which allows families a chance to join together in a safe, fun-filled environment. It features hours of non-stop entertainment capped with a fireworks show to end the evening.

The Gesa Carousel of Dreams took over the planning of the event in 2015 after a previous group planned the event for 19 years. The Carousel realized much had changed in the nearly two decades the event had been held and spend months speaking with parents, sponsors, performers and vendors about what they wanted in this event. After taking a year off to re-tool the event, the Carousel produced its first First Night event on December 31, 2016.

The event now is focused on interactive family fun. Solo singers have been replaced by interactive stage performances. Art exhibits gave way to hands-on make-it-and-take-it activities. The end time of the event was moved to 9pm to allow smaller children the opportunity to watch the ball drop and the fireworks show. Fireworks remained one of the main draws of the evening.

While there were more than 260 cities across the country with First Night programs at the turn of the century, that number has dropped to just 45 as of 2014. We are fortunate our community continues to support our event each year. Port Townsend is the only other city left in Washington to host a First Night-style celebration.

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