Raleigh readies for First Night 2009

Raleigh will ring in the new year with a mix of visual and performing artists in venues around downtown Dec. 31.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — First Night Raleigh 2009 – it's a giant party planned for 55,000 to 60,000 of the city's closest friends to ring in the new year.

And organizers say they hope this year's festivities will be extra special.

"It's been a rough year for a lot of people, so this year, we just really wanted to have a great party for everybody," said Jackie Smith, marketing and promotions manager for Artsplosure, which is organizing the annual celebration that has been a Raleigh tradition since 1992.

Festivities begin at 2 p.m. Dec. 31 with a children's celebration on Bicentennial Plaza outside the museums of history and natural sciences.

The People's Procession, a participatory parade will wind its way along Fayetteville Street at 6 p.m., followed by an early "Countdown to Midnight" and fireworks.

After dark, entertainers and artists will cater to an adult crowd. Among the acts scheduled to appear are The Smithereens, John Brown and the Groove Shop Band, Chuck Davis and the African-American Dance Ensemble and Transactors Improv Company.

The evening concludes with a countdown, a giant acorn and fireworks at midnight.

Buttons for admission to all events and venues are required and available for $9 at local Harris Teeter and Rite Aid stores, as wekk as Ben & Jerry’s, Borders Books & Music, Marbles Kids Museum and other locations.

They will also be sold at the event at $10 for children 6 to 12 and $12 for adults.

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