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Preparations underway for 20th year of First Night celebration

By: Lauren Hensley

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Its almost time to kiss 2013 goodbye and one Centre County town is getting ready to celebrate. Thousands are expected to celebrate in downtown State College at First Night and organizers are busy preparing for the crowds. 

Its an event that started with humble beginnings 20 years ago, but now thousands are choosing to spend New Years Eve a little closer to home.  When the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve, crowds will be celebrating in downtown State College at First Night. The events director, Rick Bryant, said the interest has grown tremendously over the years and local businesses are cashing in on the crowds.

It brings 6,000 people to State College who spend money, Bryant said.  They will go to a restaurant, some will stay overnight in a hotel.  Some will stay overnight with family and friends. They will eat groceries, buy gas, and its all a little boost to the economy, Bryant said.

Preparations were put on a bit of a rain delay due to the wet weather Sunday.  Ice sculptures were supposed to be carved in Sidney Friedman Park but conditions were too wet.  Instead organizers were busy stuffing race packets for the hundreds who registered to run in this years Resolution Run 5K. Bryant said no matter the weather, on New Years Eve there will be much to enjoy.

 Theres more to First Night State College than what we have outdoors!  So even if we have bad weather there are great concerts and events indoors where you can have an absolutely fantastic time, Bryant said.   

Nearly all outdoor entertainment is free and a button costing $10 is the ticket into all indoor performances.  This family-friendly celebration will kick off at 10 a.m. New Years Eve and keeps rocking until midnight on Jan. 1.  For more information on how to purchase a button click here.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times