If anyone is bored at Tacoma’s First Night celebration, they really would be trying hard to stay glum. First Night Tacoma-Pierce County is a family-friendly, arts-centered, alcohol free celebration of New Year's Eve that takes place throughout downtown Tacoma’s theater district. The main event kicks off with the Last Mile fun run at 6 p.m. and is followed by a parade that includes marching bands, costumes, masks and, of course, the giant First Night puppets. Once the parade ends, the stages around the district light up and music, dancing, fire hooping and magic taking over 20 different stages and spaces until midnight. The outdoor events are free to all festival-goers. The theme for this coming year is built around the Chinese “Year of the Snake.” First Night activities will play with various aspects of this theme, utilizing artists from the community. New this year will be a First Night Scavenger Hunt that will lead participants to 13 locations around the Theater District in an effort to be eligible for a drawing of one night free stay at Hotel Murano. The starting point is the Feathered Serpent sculpture located between the Main Stage and the Woolworth Windows. When participants find it, they will see a secret word that will aid the effort to find another location. Once participants have gathered all the secret words during the night, they can drop their answer slips into any one of the First Night donation boxes to enter the drawing. The idea for the scavenger hunt came after several participants noted last year that some of the stages were tucked away into nooks and created a sense of exploration. “It also gets people out and around,” said First Night Director Lance Kagey. An added bonus for scavenger hunt participants, and just for those observant visitors on the move, are the Monkeyshines Medallions, which an ultra secret group of art supporters have hidden around the district and are keepsakes for anyone who finds them. A special Golden Glass Medallion is out there as well. The finder not only gets to keep the treasure but also gets an additional 10 entries into the Murano prize drawing. First Night is marking its 19th year as a safe, exciting, inexpensive, family-friendly alternative to traditional New Year's celebrations. Tacoma's was the first such event to take place west of the Mississippi. More than 300 cities now have First Night celebration in their areas. A First Night buttons cost $10 and not only allows entry to the staged acts but also admission to the Children's Museum of Tacoma and Museum of Glass during the daylight hours before the official First Night activities start. Button holders also get free skate rentals at Franciscan Polar Plaza, across from Tacoma Art Museum. Children under the age of 10 are admitted free of charge. Buttons are available at venues around downtown as well as online at firstnighttacoma.org, which also includes a roster of the events and stage performances.
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