RALEIGH, N.C. — Big changes are in store for Sunday’s First Night celebration, as most of the festivities move to Fayetteville Street this year.
This year, the acorn drop will take place the middle of Fayetteville and Davie streets. Each block was transformed into a different area, with the activities stretching onto the side streets. However, some of the traditional events will still take place away from Fayetteville Street. (See a schedule of events)
Crews worked on finishing touches Sunday morning, gearing up for the night's big event. The performance group Two Near the Edge rehearsed the dance routine that it plans to perform during the celebration. The ensemble, along with other groups, will perform at the North Carolina Museum of History on Sunday night, entertaining the crowds with a variety of events leading up to the acorn drop at midnight. (List of scheduled performers)
Streets that will be closed for the celebration include Hargett, Fayetteville, Martin and Davie streets. (Map and Directions)
Because crowds usually mean more customers, many downtown Raleigh businesses planned to stay open late Sunday night. Most shops and restaurants along Fayetteville Street stand to see a boost in business.
At Yancy's on Fayetteville Street, the night was almost booked solid by Sunday evening.
“We've got a few seats left,” said manager Alan Phillips.
Yancy’s has been open for just four weeks, and managers say the place is often busy. Contrast that with Crema, just two blocks up. The ice cream shop opened its doors three months ago, and so far business hasn’t been bumping.
“Still a little slow on the weekends,” Crema owner Mikhail Jannik said.
Weekend events have helped rev things up for most businesses. The Raleigh Christmas Parade used all of Fayetteville Street. But other events like the Capital City Bike Fest kept to a small section. Shop owners on other blocks said business was steered away.
“Sometimes when they keep the events all the way down at the other end of the street, people won't move past a two-block radius. There's nothing for us,” said Jannik.
That shouldn't be a problem with First Night. Vendors and entertainers will line each block of Fayetteville Street.
“We're really going to spread out throughout Fayetteville Street this year and really utilize it for all it's worth,” said Jackie Roberts, Artsplosure’s marketing manager
With 50,000 people expected downtown Sunday night, business owners said they plan to make the most of the crowds.
“I think that will help,” said Jannik. “When you have designated areas for people to be in and each group has a niche and finds where they will go, that does help.”
If you can't make it to see the drop on Fayetteville Street, you can join WRAL and WRAL.com for complete coverage of the big celebration, beginning at 11 p.m. WRAL'S Julia Lewis and Ken Smith will hitting the streets for all the action during the countdown to midnight.
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