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Circus comes to Raleigh with First Night celebration

Posted December 27, 2012
Updated December 30, 2012

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— First Night Raleigh, the city's annual New Year's Eve celebration, has adopted a circus theme to ring in 2013.

Performers for the event include acrobats, fire dancers, aerial artists and fortune tellers. A mural on Fayetteville Street and rides like a Ferris wheel and an 80-foot "jumbo drop" accentuate the circus theme.

"It sounds like a great, family-friendly event," Holly Springs resident Tracy Carr said.

About 100,000 people are expected in downtown Raleigh on Monday night to celebrate the new year.

"It's gotten bigger and bigger," said Terri Dollar, a program director for Artsplosure, which produces First Night Raleigh. "We used to get the call, 'Where do I park?' or 'Where is downtown Raleigh?' Everybody knows where downtown Raleigh is now."

Circus theme to carry First Night Raleigh celebration Circus theme to carry First Night Raleigh celebration

Organizers also have created a smartphone app that includes event maps and shows places to park, Dollar said.

At midnight, attention turns to the giant metal acorn as it is lowered toward City Plaza.

David Benson, the artist who created the acorn back in the early 1990s, polishes his artwork every year in late December to make sure it shines bright for its moment in the spotlight.

"It's a great feeling to have a piece of your artwork become a piece of history," Benson said. "I'm flattered and honored by that."

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  • RAA0013 Dec 31, 9:11 a.m.

    I took the kids to this last year early before the crowds got bad and left well before the fireworks. Good time for a tour through the capital, a short rickshaw ride and take some cute pictures of the kids next to the decorations. Those were the positives. I still miss the celebration being at the fairgrounds with much more open space to enjoy.

    Negatives were overpriced food, 2 hour wait in line for the ferris wheel (which is from the fair), once the crowds do come in it's hard to move around and dress warm since Fayettevile Street is still and always has been a wind tunnel. And hopefully they have fixed the fireworks issue from last year and shoot them up higher this year so people can see them this year.

  • Uhavenoclu Dec 28, 10:13 a.m.

    Raleigh is a circus.

  • Pepe Silvia Dec 28, 10:00 a.m.

    genralwayne, I think I missed something or maybe you saw it elsewhere... Where did you read that entertainment was being brought in from outside of our area?

    I assumed, as I would think most people who have been at large downtown events within the last few years, that Acroentertainment (a Raleigh based performance group who does stunts like listed in the article) would be involved. They have been a large presence at many downtown events.

  • dwntwnboy2 Dec 28, 9:58 a.m.

    "I don't go to downtown Raleigh except for jury duty"- that would give ANYONE a negative view of downtown for sure! LOL I'm still finding new restaurants and places to go all the time- just wish I had more $$ to go out more often.....but thanks to the hockey owners and players bickering...no extra $$ this year :-(

  • GravyPig Dec 28, 9:56 a.m.

    "One has to wonder - with all of the incredible talent in and around the city of Raleigh and the state of North Carolina - why are the entertainers for this event always brought in from outside of our area? What a waste."

    I know plenty of folks that do Aerials, Fire dancing, and Acrobatics right here in the area. What gives you the impression that they are using people from outside the state? I know fow a fact that a large chunk of the music acts for First Night the first few years I went were from NC or local to this area.

  • Pleasepostmycomments Dec 28, 9:51 a.m.

    There's enough clowns in Raleigh already! :)

  • genralwayne Dec 28, 8:58 a.m.

    One has to wonder - with all of the incredible talent in and around the city of Raleigh and the state of North Carolina - why are the entertainers for this event always brought in from outside of our area? What a waste.

  • whatelseisnew Dec 28, 8:56 a.m.

    I hope all that attend have a good and safe time. I don't go to downtown Raleigh except for jury duty.

  • dwntwnboy2 Dec 28, 8:49 a.m.

    As long as the weather is clear, it's always a lot of fun. Crowded but fun, beats sitting at home alone watching it unfold on TV. They do an "early drop" at 7pm for the kids- and anyone else that wants to see the Acorn drop and still have other things to do. Businesses are already gearing up for the big night.