First Night

Brent Finnegan -- June 20th, 2007

You a fan of Harrisonburg’s First Night? According to the DNR, they may not do it again this year, due to lack of volunteers and a new executive director.

18 Responses to “First Night”

  1. Mountain says:

    Does anyone have contact info for that group?

  2. Emmy says:

    I’ve never gone because its always too cold and late for my kids, but I’d be sad to see it go. I think its a really nice alternative for families.

  3. finnegan says:

    Mountain, I would imagine you could probably get in touch with them via the HDR: 432.8922

  4. David Miller says:

    Joan Strickler’s contact info is
    (540) 432-9027

  5. linz says:

    I am a fan of First Night. I hope that it continues and maybe even improves with some new leadership and other volunteers. I know a suggestion for improvement isn’t as much help at this point as offering to direct the event, but the biggest boost the evening needs is more scheduled events to choose from, leading right up to the fireworks. There’s been an awkward gap between 10pm and 12am that causes people to get bored and leave disappointed. I myself have been one of those people in the past.

    Hopefully the newspaper article will stir up new people who would really enjoy organizing the evening.

  6. finnegan says:

    I haven’t been to it in probably a decade, since I have created my own personal tradition of spending NYE in a different geographic location every year.

  7. Tim says:

    The lack of indoor events seems like the big issue to me as well. As last year made very evident, cold and drizzling rain won’t help anyone come down town but the ones who do aren’t going to stand outside and watch a band or anything else baring the actual fireworks and ball drop.

    Although disappointing, I feel that the event is too ambitious because we have no way of knowing what the weather will be like, and that is the most important factor to its overall success .

  8. Barnabas says:

    Maybe not even more events maybe better events. I think some carnival style games and things that are more interactive could help the evening. The later it gets the more things should appeal to the generation Xers while still maintaining a PG rating.

  9. Del Marvel says:

    “the lack of indoor events seems like the big issue to me as well.”

    Most of the events were indoors at all the Harrisonburg First Night’s I’ve been to. Check the schedule from last year.

  10. Gxeremio says:

    The issue isn’t percentage of events indoors, but the amount and variety of events. Looking at that schedule, there is nothing from the 10-12 block that would capture my interest. We have left early for the last 2 or 3 years.

  11. David Miller says:

    Volunteer, it’s the most/only important input you can make!

  12. Annie Hololob says:

    First Night isn’t the only thing about downtown suffering. Court Days, when I walked through, seemed to have little attendance and the bi-annual art walk is usually trumped by the Ballou Arts Festival that Greg Ballou holds at his own home.

    Downtown Harrisonburg needs to invest in business and the arts community that will promote community events that interest the public and draws those people to their businesses. As a downtown resident I would rather look at Mom & Pop businesses, boutiques, and ethnic restaurants than vacant store fronts. Really, this town needs a decent shoe store already.

    The powers that be need to support businesses that will drive traffic and assist in promoting the events that can make the businesses and the downtown revival successful. Students and tourists, though they have means to invest in our local businesses, have little reason to visit the downtown area. The events currently offered are poorly promoted, poorly marketed and have limited appeal.

  13. finnegan says:

    I usually just go to Ballou’s after seeing all the other art that’s out (by the way, whoever’s work is hanging in McHone’s is exceptional).

    I think it’s a slow and steady process. Eddie Bumbaugh and HDR have done a lot to help the businesses downtown, and Kai is beginning work on the arts part. Compare H’burg downtown to Waynesboro or Winchester’s downtown, and you’ll see the difference. I can see it improving, but it’s slow as molasses.

    I hope the MACRoCk/HDR experiment goes well, and that they head in the direction of getting “cooler” businesses and events planned and executed like that.

  14. Emmy says:

    Downtown is coming along. Things have improved greatly since I started working there almost three years ago now. Everyone at work kept hoping for a convenience store and now we have one…thanks David :) I’m happy to have more options if I want to pick up lunch, but I would like to see more stores and more improvements to existing businesses. I went into La De Da for the first time the other day and while I thought it was an amazing store, I won’t ever be able to afford to shop there. I hope they are doing well and have a market so that they’ll be able to stick around. Sadly small stores with specific customers types have so much trouble competing with chains in an area like this. I love to and try to patronize them as much as possible, but there comes a point where its not cost effective. I went off track there a bit, but I guess what I’m saying is that downtown is making big strides. Don’t give up hope!

  15. Del Marvel says:

    Speaking of downtown businesses, everybody go drop a couple of bucks on some used books at Downtown Books :)

  16. Del Marvel says:

    I’ve got no vested interest, by the way, other than I’d hate to see the place go under.

  17. Mountain says:

    In defense of the downtown “happenin’s”, it’s my opinion that things have improved ten-fold since I got to town a decade ago. Sure, not everything that goes on down there appeals to me, but there’s more and more every year.

    Eddie, Alexis, and Lisa at HDR are doing wonders with what they have to work with. CST hosts some really good events and I’m often sad at the low turnout that some of them get. The downtown merchants and restaurateurs are continually improving the offerings. The arts community is putting an awful lot of effort into getting us down there and involved. Citizens for Downtown has been hosting wonderful family entertainment on Summer Friday evenings for many years with limited funds and a few volunteers.

    First Night, although it might not be everyone’s first choice on NYE, is a wonderful option for many of our citizens. It would truly be a huge loss if it doesn’t continue. I admire the group for “putting out the word” that they’re facing challenges instead of giving up and disappearing. I think this event is a key piece of the downtown revitalization effort and worth saving. I hope a few of you will join me in finding out how we might help…

  18. Tina says:

    I was recently invited to be a part of the board for First Night and attended the meeting earlier this week. The biggest need is an Executive Director and volunteers, not only for the event itself but to assist in the planning. Anything from logistics and organizational skills to more creative endeavors.

    I really hope that this event can continue. Although it’s not for everyone (what is?), First Night offers affordable entertainment to families and individuals, helps create community, and is good for downtown businesses.

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