Local News

Ring In 2004 At First Night Raleigh

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The countdown to 2004 is on and so is the start of Raleigh's annual New Year's Eve celebration.

As many as 50,000 people are expected to take part in the family-oriented, alcohol-free celebration of the arts to ring in the New Year.

The 1,250-pound copper acorn is poised to drop twice at the Fayetteville Street Mall -- once in the evening for the younger crowd and again at midnight with fireworks.

While the acorn may be the main attraction of First Night Raleigh, organizers said it is certainly not the only one.

[There's] concerts, a great variety of music, theatre, comedy, other performance art and magic, puppetry," said Paul Siceloff of First Night Raleigh.

One hundred performances

and activities are scheduled for the day with the help of hundreds of volunteers.

Activities began at 2 p.m. and take place in a 12-block area in the center of downtown beginning on the south end at the Raleigh Convention and Conference Center. Activities take place both inside and out along the Fayetteville Street Mall to the north, and end on the Bicentennial Plaza north of the Capitol Building at the North Carolina Museums of History and Natural Sciences.

One of the largest new events for the celebration is New Year's Eve Around The World. From international food to belly dancing, visitors will be able to see how different countries celebrate when the clock strikes midnight.

Raleigh is one of 100 First Night celebrations worldwide.

First Night buttons are required and can be


at several downtown Raleigh locations. The cost is $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 6-12 and free for children age five and under.

Staying in this New Year's Eve? WRAL-TV is your ticket to First Night fun.Live coverage begins at 6 p.m. and continues with live cut-ins throughout the night. WRAL's 11:00 News will be extended to 12:05 a.m., to share the big acorn drop at midnight.

First Night Raleigh is not the only celebration in the Triangle area. The city of Durham does not have an official celebration planned, but there are plenty of private parties. Organizers at one hotel plan to give guests a survival bag that includes a pair of sunglasses, Alka-seltzer, Tylenol and a bottle of water.

There is sure to be plenty of singing and dancing at the Cape Fear Regional Theater in Fayetteville. Organizers have two shows planned at 8:15 p.m. and 10:15 p.m. At midnight, organizers will usher in the new year by lowering a replica of the clock from the historic Market House.

The Mount Olive Pickle Company is holding its festivities a little early by dropping a big plastic pickle at 7 p.m., which is midnight Greenwich Mean Time.

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