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First Night Tacoma 2013

The greatest show never seen

SWEETKISS MOMMA: Southern soul rock is back at the Duchess of Downtown First Night Stage around 10:30 p.m. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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First Night has a 19-year-long history of filling downtown Tacoma's streets with New Year's Eve exuberance - fire and flame, music and dance, community and camaraderie among the celebrants. It's a magical night. A night that brings all Tacomans together. A night that lifts us up where we belong.

Too bad it won't happen this year.

It's a well-known fact that the world will end on Dec. 21, 2012. Mayan prophecies have been very clear on this fact for hundreds of years. Still, the First Night team insisted on planning their event this year anyway, despite rampant reports of planets colliding with the earth, apocalyptic horsemen raining down fire upon us all or geomagnetic reversal.

"Our theme this year is (was?) the Year of the Snake, implying a year ahead filled with the good fortune of wisdom and luck!" says Sarah Champion, president of the event's board of directors, still bizarrely hopeful that there will even be a next year. "We had planned so many things to celebrate: an ice walk to test how lucky your bare feet are over ice (and probably your wisdom, too), scavenger hunts that would test your wisdom of Tacoma, and of course a HUGE celebration of art, music and fire to remind everyone how lucky they are (or were?) to be part of this amazing community."

She's also bummed that the public won't get the chance to use the new website for long, which is optimized for smart phones. With massive solar flares in the forecast, though, I would kiss your smart phones and Wi-Fi and other electronic whatnot goodbye whilst you still can.

Lance Kagey, co-festival director, was banking on attendees enjoying the lineup of bands they have in store. What will we all miss out on?

"All the best bands like Owl Parliament, Tubaluba, Bucharest Drinking Team and Pearl Django," he says. "(The public will also be most unfortunate to miss) the scavenger hunt that includes hidden glass medallions from the people who bring you Monkeyshines."

Along with an amazing entertainment lineup on the event's five indoor stages and three outdoor stages, there would have been fire performers, burning man artists, the Magic Lantern Society, the world's shortest parade and fire pits in the street where people could warm up. To ring in the New Year, the ever-optimistic group was planning to burn an effigy of a dragon (last year's Chinese astrological symbol) and reveal a snake (next year's ill-fated symbol). The entire event was family-friendly and alcohol-free.

"Well, I think that the end of the world is a really important experience that we should all be prepared for, but at the same time there have been many end of the world scenarios that haven't come to pass ... so come anyway," says a hopeful Ricky Gene Powell, co-executive director. "If the world does end, what we could do then! If the world ends, we're going to have a big party since there won't be any limitations on what we can do. Everything's legal!"

Perhaps the world ending might be the best thing to ever happen to New Year's Eve.

Buttons to gain access to the event would have been just $10. You could even have gotten into downtown Tacoma's four large museums during the day for free with that button, too.

Damn shame.

FIRST NIGHT TACOMA, SUNDAY, DEC. 30, 6:30 P.M. TO MIDNIGHT, $10 BEFORE DEC. 31, $14 AFTER, NINTH AND BROADWAY, DOWNTOWN TACOMA, DETAILS AT FIRSTNIGHTTACOMA.ORG

LINK: First Night Tacoma Entertainment Schedule

LINK: First Night Tacoma Tickets

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