WESTPORT, Conn. -- Dennis the Train Man will be back onboard again this year for Westport/Weston’s 23rd annual First Night-New Year’s Eve Celebration.
First Night will be on New Year’s Eve, Dec. 31, with activities taking place from 3 to 10 p.m. at various venues throughout Westport. Anyone from any town is welcome to attend.
According to Barbara Pearson-Rac, president of the Board of First Night Westport/Weston, it's not just a children’s event. First Night also offers a wide variety of activities for adults as well.
"It’s a one-night, upbeat community event," she said. "We try to mix it up each year with singing, music and dance."
"Dennis the Train Man brings his train sets, and everyone loves that," she said. "He used to be a Metro-North conductor. He tells train stories and everyone seems to be in awe of watching those trains. He loves coming up here from his home in Long Island and sharing his experiences with the trains."
Included this year in Dennis’s collection is Amtrak, Thomas the Tank Train, the New York City Subway and Harry Potter's Hogwarts Express.
“I happen to really love entertainment and talented people, and to introduce children to a live interactive performance is a joy versus having them looking at TV,” said Pearson-Rac, who has been to nearly all of the First Nights.
“I remember taking my daughter Sara to First Night when she was 10, when we first moved to town from New Jersey," she said. “We brought her to hear a cabaret performance and a comedian, which she loved."
Aside from Dennis the Train Man, there will be bouncy houses, fireworks, music, magicians, face painting and family Zumba at the event.
According to Pearson-Rac, First Night is an alcohol free-drug free family event, so all the performances have to be family friendly.
She said there is a lot of work involved in putting on First Night. “We have 20 performances. It’s like producing a Broadway show,” she said.
It costs $52,000 to put on the event, according to Pearson-Rac. "We are all-volunteer, nonprofit organization," she said.
The towns of Westport and Weston help support First Night to defray some of the cost. In addition, the First Night committee approaches local businesses to ask them for help. Proceeds go to paying the performers.
Performers this year include:
- Broadway singer Beau Allen, who will sing in his one-man show "Something's Coming." Broadway numbers include "If I Loved You," "If Ever I Would Leave You" and "I Dreamed A Dream.”
- Ventriloquist Jonathon Geffner in his puppet show: “Puppet Power!” According to Pearson-Rac, Geffner was the ventriloquist consultant for Tina Fey's 2013 movie, “Admission.” "Jonathan brings his dummies and it’s always amazing to watch the interaction between him and his doll," she said.
- Stargazing with the Westport Astronomical Society. The all-volunteer members of the Westport Astronomical Society will on the Riverwalk by the Westport library to view the last night sky of 2016 and usher in 2017. WAS members will have several telescopes for views of a 2 1/2 day old Moon, rusty Mars and bright Venus.
The cost of Westport/Weston First Night is $15 for adults. Children 2 and under are admitted for free. Fireworks will be at 8:15 p.m.