What First Night Means To Me
Our First Night experience has evolved over the years and as our family has grown. In the mid-90s, First Night was about the puppets, parades, music, and the Middle Earth Studio – where we were knights, ogres, and my sons made the loveliest of lovely princesses – walking both sides of good and evil with the music and narration backdrop that only the Middle Earth Studio can provide. Each year, we capped off our First Night listening first to “Major Ordained” and then in later years (minus the major and only the ordained) with Music with Phil and Joel. The evenings ended with fireworks and “Happy New Years” kisses on the top deck of the closest parking garage.
As the years progressed, the boys became teenagers, shed their parents somewhere between College Avenue and the corner of Beaver and Fraser, and safely experienced First Night’s wonderful, celebrative venues on what can be a notoriously scary night in other communities. The boys headed first to RockFest, then themselves became performers in First Night, some playing in bands, others running the First Night 5K wearing only a Speedo in sub-freezing temperatures. We are thankful for First Night and our community’s commitment to celebrate in ways that offers every age and stage an opportunity to participate and enjoy the promise that each New Year brings. And perhaps, as my college aged sons return to enjoy this year’s First Night, a reprisal of their princess parts in the Middle Earth Studio production? Probably not!
First Night offers the opportunity showcase our community at its best! Each year, Faith Church provides a warm, inviting place for First Nighter's to take respite and enjoy nourishing food and fellowship while benefiting a local non-profit organization, MidPenn Legal Services. We enjoy repeat customers annually! It's a win-win situation for us all!
Faith United Church of Christ
To be honest, participating in the First Night here is the only New Years Eve I’ve ever really enjoyed. In Philadelphia, you pay $85 a head to party at some hotel ballroom with a bunch of people you don’t know. Deep down, you’re thinking, “If I don’t have fun tonight, I’ve wasted $85 bucks!”
The vibe of First Night State College is so different. It’s the friendliness and intimacy of a small town combined with laid back people who know how to laugh. There is a feeling of anticipation and excitement, but it’s not forced or frenzied. In the afternoon, you walk around watching the magnificent ice sculptures emerge from their blocks before your eyes. You write your New Year’s resolution on a sculpture, you toss some failed goal or some interpersonal disaster that will henceforth never be spoken of into the fire barrels and feel optimistic at the thought of trying again. I’m so happy to be part of the festivities again!
There is never a question at the Walters’ household how we will celebrate New Year’s Eve! For the last several years we have traveled over the Seven Mountains to participate in State College’s First Night Celebration. My children spend hours putting together their crazy costumes to run in the Resolution Run 5K Race. We treasure our collection of photos and memories of the amazing ice sculptures, laughing with friends around the warming barrels and bags of kettle corn nearly as long as your arm.
The John Walters Family
Lewistown , PA
I volunteer for First Night because it means starting the New Year with a spirit of community, being a small part of making something great a success! Working together with friends and family to keep the tradition of First Night happening is the essence of what makes Happy Valley MY community.
First Night Volunteer
As transplants from a warmer climate fifteen years ago, we were looking for fun diversions to survive the Pennsylvania winters. Since then, First Night has become one of our family's favorite winter activities in State College. As our children have grown from toddlers to young adults, we have enjoyed different aspects of First Night. We used to spend our time admiring the ice sculptures, playing on the Russian slide, participating in the Children's Parade or making crafts. These days we enjoy running the Resolution Run, volunteering or meeting friends at various performances, including Rock Fest and the late night concert by Joel Blunk and Phil Spangler. First Night has strengthened our family's roots in this community and we look forward to its new offerings and annual traditions every year.
Katherine Allen and Richard Page
I have loved First Night ever since I moved here twelve years ago. Gathering together to bid farewell to the old year and welcome in the new one in State College is wonderful. With the variety of entertainment, the creativity expressed in the ice and resolution sculptures, the music and excitement and laughter from the children and families….it’s great! And volunteering adds another dimension to it because you get to take advantage of opportunities you might not attend as a spectator. The whole evening is spectacular!
First Night Volunteer
As an art teacher, I love the ice sculptures that sprout up like winter mushrooms all over town!
First Night, I mainly go to Rockfest, because it's exciting with great music and it's drug free which counteracts he stereotype of rock concerts revolving around drugs and alcohol. Last year's Woodstock the was really fun and this year crowd can expect and Alien Invasion!!!"
State College Area High School
First Night? I work backstage or RockFest, the atmosphere is awesome! I love the creative themes, and the rockin' music, as well as the message First Night sends!
State College Area High School
I am delighted that State College has a First Night celebration, and my family and I have participated in it every year it has been in existence. It is so important to us to have an alcohol-free, family-friendly way to say goodbye to the old year and to welcome in the New Year. There is ample opportunity to play in Sidney Friedman, and there is time and space to reflect on regrets and resolutions. After enjoying the ice sculptures and the entertainment, we watch the parade from our favorite restaurant. As we walk around town, we comment on the festive ways this celebration welcomes everyone, no matter how young or how old, to be part of our community.
The State College First Night experience fosters a feeling of joy, jubilance and optimism as the visitors together celebrates the beginning of a New Year. It’s one “happening” party! All starting with the morning’s ice sculptors and not ending until Old Main’s bell rings at midnight. Although hard to pick a favorite activity, I vote for the Puppet Procession. Leading the parade is a very loud drum circle, all followed by giant magical fantasy puppets that seem to float on air as they march into the night. It puts a smile on your face for the entire coming New Year!