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Let the '14 revels begin: First Night rings in Westport's new year today

Westport News
Updated 5:26 am, Tuesday, December 31, 2013

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  • Ventriloquist  Jonathan Geffner will put on two performances of his "Puppet Power!" show in the Saugatuck Elementary School auditorium. Shows are at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Photo: Contributed Photo / Westport News
    Ventriloquist Jonathan Geffner will put on two performances of his "Puppet Power!" show in the Saugatuck Elementary School auditorium. Shows are at 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. Photo: Contributed Photo

 

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WESTPORT FIRST NIGHT
What: A wide array of entertainment -- some suited for families, some for adults -- including lots of live music.
When: Tuesday, Dec. 31, 4 to 10 p.m.
Where: Nine venues, most within easy walking distance of each other downtown.
Tickets: First Night buttons are $15. Available Tuesday at all venues and in advance at Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place; Westport Library, Jesup Green; Oscar's Deli, 159 Main St.; Trader Joe's, 400 Post Road E.; TD Bank, 185 Main St.; Weston Hardware, 190 Weston Road; and Currie Tire, 599 West Ave., Norwalk.
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Toddler, 'tween or teen.

Twenty-something, middle-aged or golden age.

No matter your years, First Night will be the last word in live, New Year's Eve entertainment in Westport.

The 20th annual downtown festival Tuesday afternoon and evening features a wide variety music and other entertainment -- some geared to families, others to adult tastes -- at nine downtown venues.

Family attractions range from bouncing on inflatable structures and trampolines, to face painting, to magic shows, ventriloquist-and-puppet performances, square dancing, a model-train show and lots of live music.

For more mature tastes, nearly every music genre is offered -- from Bach to bluegrass to Broadway, and from jazz to Motown to rock. Most shows are less than an hour but feature two performances, allowing revelers time to walk to another venue to sample something else, or stay put for a second show by a favorite.

Also on tap are sessions with fortune tellers, palm readers and psychics, plus community theater performances.

A fireworks display over the Saugatuck River at 10 p.m. caps the revelry.

Admission to all First Night Westport events is a First Night button, which costs $15 and will be available at all venues Tuesday and in advance at select businesses.

Family venues

A new venue this year is Saugatuck Elementary School, which has a full bill of family entertainment from 4 to about 9 p.m. An inflatables park will be set up in the gym, and food will be available in the cafeteria. Entertainment at the school will include face painting, shows by a rock band, jug band and teen vocal group, plus performances by a Mary Poppins character and a magician.

Across the river at the Westport Library, Dennis the Train Man will be in the McManus Room from 4 to 7 p.m. with his model trains and stories about them.

The TD Bank lobby also will feature family fare, including face painting, musical performances by Bari Koral and a family square dance.

More mature tastes

Adults who like live music would be hard pressed to find more variety within just a few blocks.

Christ & Holy Trinity Church will be the venue for Chris Coogan's jazz ensemble, a cabaret show by Leslie Orofino, a rock band playing top 40 favorites and a 50-voice gospel choir.

At the Westport Weston Family Y, more jazz is on tap from the guitar-horn duo Paul and Jean, and rock fans later can listen to the RPMs, a quartet that covers Fleetwood Mac, Badfinger, Rolling Stones and Jefferson Airplane tunes.

Blues fans will want to visit the Westport Historical Society, where pianist Mark Naftalin performs from 6 to 8 p.m. Naftalin was the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's original keyboardist, and he has played with John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Etta James and other A-listers.

Town Hall is the venue for Tim Currie and his Motown Revue Band, Bach to Beethoven selections by an instrumental and vocal quartet and community theater performances. Also at Town Hall will be the Bigelow Tea House of the New Year Moon, featuring fortune tellers, palm readers, psychics and Tarot card readers.

Revelers itching to dance can shake a leg from 5:45 to 6:45 at the Motown show in the Town Hall auditorium and from 7:30 to 9:30 at Christ & Holy Trinity's Branson Hall, where the band Squeaky Clean will cover top-40 hits from the golden age of rock.

Rockin' teens

Teenagers will be right at home at Toquet Hall, where the School of Rock's Fairfield House Band, a group of a dozen area students, will play from 7:45 to 9:45 p.m.