On Sunday, Dec. 31 you can go barking mad (in a good way) or have a howling good time as Tacoma ushers in the Year of the Dog at its annual First Night New Year’s Eve celebration. This year marks the 25th edition of the event, which is held in Tacoma’s Theater District, on Broadway between South 7th and South 11th streets. There will be a multitude of musical acts, dance performances, circus acrobats, theatrical productions and other spectacles held at a number of venues as well as out on the Broadway strip, which is closed to traffic during the celebration.
Much of the action takes place on the Main Stage, set up outdoors at 940 Broadway. Other events take place at Theater on the Square (915 Broadway), The Mountain House Stage (746 Broadway), Pantages Theater (901 Broadway), The Pythian Temple (924 Broadway), The Rialto Theater (310 S. 9th St.), Urban Grace Church (902 Market St.), Tully’s (764 Broadway) and Tacoma Youth Theater (924 Broadway). There will also be a kids’ tent with shows and activities geared toward the youngsters in the crowd.
In honor of the Year of the Dog, this edition of First Night will feature an event called the “Iditarace,” in which teams of human-powered “dog sleds” from throughout the community will brave the elements in a “treacherous” 400-yard race. Teams of four to eight people created their own unique sleds and will race from Commerce and 9th to St. Helens and Market. The race takes place at 9 p.m.
The evening’s events kick off at 6 p.m. with what is billed as the “World’s Shortest Parade,” which starts outside Tully’s. Things come to a close as the clock approaches midnight with an effigy lighting and fire dancers as everyone does the countdown to midnight at the main stage. (Do yourself a favor and bring your own noisemaker. Last year I forgot to get one and there were none available to purchase in the immediate vicinity.)
Cirrus Circus will perform two shows at the Rialto. Members of the group specialize in acrobatics, aerial stunts, juggling, tight-wire, unicycle and more. Brazilian dance and music will be provided by VamoLá Drum and Dance Ensemble and dancers from the Metro Arts’ dance program will put on a show as well.
In the theatrical realm, Minion Productions has assembled several shows including “Strangely,” a one-man cabaret; a detective spoof “Ziplock Holmes and the Case of the Missing Old Man” and “Beau & Aero,” a comedy featuring two bumbling aviators; a super hero comedy “S.P.A.M. – Super Perfect Amazing Man” and a variety show.
More than 20 musical groups will play during the course of the evening. They cover everything from hip hop to rock to the big sound of the Seattle Rock Orchestra. Musical groups: Heather’s Sweater, Baby Gramps, Sporty Lee, Stephanie Anne Johnson & Birds, Wells, Bryson Foster Band, the Heartless Kind, Beth Wood, Kuinka (see story on page B5), Every Day, Forest Beutel, Down North, The Lightweight Champs, Ok Sweetheart, Pearl Django, Tobias the Owl, Wheelies, Uncle Bonsai, Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, Seattle Rock Orchestra and The True Lovers.
Admission: all of the outdoor events are free, but you need a First Night button to get into the indoor venues. These are $10-$12 (children under 10 are free) before Dec. 31 and can be purchased online or at branches of Columbia Bank in Tacoma. Buttons are also available now at the following locations: Hotel Murano (1320 Broadway), King’s Books (218 St. Helens Ave.), Leroy Jewelers (940 Broadway), Tully’s (764 Broadway), Parkway Tavern (313 North I St.), Bluebeard Coffee (2201 6th Ave.), Museum of Glass (1801 Dock St.), Tacoma Art Museum (1701 Pacific Ave.), House of Donuts (766 St. Helens Ave.), Children’s Museum of Tacoma (1501 Pacific Ave.) and The Mercantile (754 Broadway).
Buttons are available on the day of the event for $15. They can be purchased at physical locations (see above list) or at First Night’s information booth in front of Pantages Theater at 901 Broadway.
In the Chinese zodiac, the dog stands for intelligence and protection, two things that we could use in abundance as we roll into a new year. Come to First Night ready to unleash your inner canine.