Thousands gather to ring in 2016 with acorn drop
Posted December 31, 2015
Updated March 31, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — Thousands of revelers crowded the streets of downtown Raleigh Thursday to help ring in 2016 during the annual First Night celebration.
This year's First Night theme was "Celebrating North Carolina Firsts" and included several new attractions leading up to the WRAL Countdown to Midnight.
Festivities kicked off at 2 p.m. with the Children’s Celebration at the North Carolina Museum of History, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and outdoors on the Bicentennial Plaza.
The wet weather didn't ruin the holiday plans for many families as organizers moved all activities, including the popular Henna tattoo and arts and crafts booths, indoors.
"We actually made this a family tradition where I take the day off work and we spend the day together, " said Amanda Troutman, who has been attending the First Night celebration for three years. "I'm hoping that at some point the rain will stop."
The interactive art exhibit Art Putt also started at 2 p.m. This new attraction is a miniature golf course featuring nine "North Carolina Firsts" themed holes designed by local artists.
The First Night Ferris wheel was back this year and was joined by a new ride, "The Sizzler." .
Headliners Scythian hosted a special performance at the early countdown at 7 p.m. They returned to the stage later to help ring in 2016.
Ira David Wood III was back as the countdown master of ceremonies and by time the acorn dropped, the weather had cleared up to make way for the celebration.
In addition to Scythian, First Night Raleigh hosted many performances throughout downtown. Artists included Carolina Harmony Chorus, Jonathan Byrd, Josh Dumbleton, Raleigh’s own See Gulls, T0W3RS, African American Dance Ensemble, Paperhand Puppet Intervention, North Carolina Opera singers, John Dee Holeman, Comedy Worx, Transactors Improv Company and Flor y Canto.
While the acorn was dropped in Raleigh, other North Carolina towns celebrated with unique traditions, including the Mt. Olive pickle drop.
Performances and guests