Say Farewell to the Old Year, Welcome the New Year at First Night State College!

– by Guest Writer

After an absence of a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, First Night State College will once again provide central Pennsylvania with a great way to mark the passing of the old year and the ringing in of the New Year. This alcohol-free community celebration of the visual and performing arts will take place in downtown State College and on the University Park Campus of Penn State on December 31, 2021.

A production of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, 2022 First Night State College is a creative and healthy New Year’s celebration meant to replace watching television and alcohol-fueled New Year’s Eve revelry. First Night is an old-fashioned community celebration where all are welcome; young and old, singles and families, townsfolk and visitors.

2022 First Night State College will feature a display of outdoor ice carving, including large sculptures located in the 100 block of South Allen Street, while the ever-popular PNC Bank Ice Slide will be in Sidney Friedman Park. At the end of the event, the First Night State College ice carving team will have carved over 30,000 pounds of ice! Watch these carvings evolve from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. This year, the First Night State College ice carvers will create a wide array of giant ice displays that showcase their artistry.

Displays of smaller, one-block ice sculptures will take place in front of local sponsoring businesses and on the Mayor Welch Plaza at 243 South Allen Street, as well as in Sidney Friedman Park. There will be more than 80 of these sculptures this year. Ice will be on display commencing on the morning of December 31.

Regular attendees will notice some changes in the event this year.

This year’s event will follow the Borough of State College’s mask wearing mandate. Current regulations call for all audience members to wear masks that cover their nose and mouth when inside a performance venue. This rule also covers ice skating at Pegula Arena.

First Night State College welcomes two new performance venues this year, the Blue Brick Theatre and 3 Dots Downtown.

The Blue Brick Theatre, 209 W. Calder Way is home to Happy Valley Improv, which will perform at 2:00, 4:30, 8:30, and 10:30 p.m. The 2:00 p.m. show will highlight Happy Valley Improv’s youth program, while the 10:30 p.m. show may contain adult themes.

3 Dots Downtown, 137 East Beaver Avenue, will host two performance workshops. The first is by Black Cat Belly Dance at 1:00 p.m. The second a songwriting workshop with singer-songwriter Jim Colbert at 7:00 p.m.

First Night State College will present three variety acts this year:

Acrobat Li Liu was born in China and began acrobatic training when she was six years old. Shortly thereafter she was chosen to attend The Chinese National Circus School in Beijing.

For many years Ms. Liu traveled extensively throughout Europe, Africa and Asia with The Liaoning Acrobatic Arts Troupe. She has toured America with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. She performs in the Penn State Downtown Theatre at 4:30, 7:00, and 9:30 p.m.

Born with the gifts of flexibility, curiosity, and goofiness, Jonathan Burns now uses these unique talents to astonish audiences around the globe. Over the course of his career, Jonathan has appeared on America’s Got Talent, Penn & Teller Fool Us, The Late Late Show with James Corden, and many more. He makes a return visit to First Night, performing at The State Theatre at 3:30, 7:30 and 10:00 p.m.

David Darwin presents a one-man sideshow of juggling, comedy and vaudeville with lots of audience participation. A Penn State graduate—Class of 2000 in Journalism—he keeps both adults and kids laughing with his irreverent humor. He’ll be at the State College Municipal Building Community Room at 5:00, 7:00, and 9:30 p.m.

There is something for every musical taste at First Night State College. Brass fans won’t want to miss the Altoona Brass Collective, performing at the State College Presbyterian Church at 2:00 p.m. Bluegrass aficionados will enjoy the Tussey Mountain Moonshiners, performing at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church at 8:30 p.m. Jazz saxophonist Rick Hirsch fronts the Rick Hirsch 5 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church at 2:30 p.m. More information on these performances and the entire First Night lineup can be found at firstnightstatecollege.com.

Resolution sculptures are located in the lobby of the State College Municipal Building, in Sidney Friedman Park, and on the 100 block of South Allen Street. These installations are meant to provoke wistful recollection of former resolutions and optimistic dreaming about new ones.

Runners and fast walkers can speed into the New Year in the First Night State College 5K Resolution Run, presented with the Nittany Valley Running Club. The run starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Corner of College Avenue and Allen Street and is one of the most popular events of First Night State College. We encourage participants (and spectators) to wear costumes for this bracing trip through downtown State College and the Penn State campus. More information is available online at firstnightstatecollege.com/resolution-run

Those wanting a more theatrical trip through downtown can join in our Grand Procession, starting at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 208 West Foster Avenue, and proceeding up Fraser Street to College Avenue beginning at 6:30 p.m. Participants bring to life a menagerie of large and small papier mache fantastic creatures or join in the fun playing one of our African drums.

Carriage rides will be offered beginning at 7:00 p.m. in front of the State College Municipal Building. The cost is a First Night button and $5 per person. Rides are on a first-come, first-served basis.

First Night presents arts and crafts workshops at The Makery, 123 S Fraser St. and in the Social Hall of State College Presbyterian Church, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. For those who like to be reminded of their resolution throughout the year as they drink their morning coffee, First Night presents The Resolution Mug at 2000 Degrees, 202 W. College Avenue. 2000 Degrees provides almost everything needed to immortalize a New Year’s resolution in ceramics. Audience members provide the missing piece–the creativity! Due to Covid restrictions, same day reservations will need to be made. Stop at 2000 Degrees on December 31 and pick a time for your visit. Admission is a First Night button plus $7.00.

The official warm up station of First Night State College is 3 Dots Downtown, 137 East Beaver Avenue, State College. It will be staffed with friendly volunteers who can answer all of your First Night questions from 1:00 to 8:00 p.m. on December 31.

Admission to all indoor performances is with the 2022 First Night State College button. Buttons are $10 and can be purchased at the door of events and select downtown businesses. When accompanied by an adult, children 12 and under are free. First Night State College button retail outlets include: 3 Dots Downtown, 2000 Degrees, Appalachian Outdoors, Art a la Carte, Blue Brick Theatre, Borough of State College Finance Office, The Corner Room, Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, The Makery, Otto’s Pub and Brewery, Pegula Ice Arena, Penn State Federal Credit Union, PNC Banks (College, North Atherton and South Atherton Streets) Schlow Centre Region Library, State College Framing Company and Galley, UPS Store (Colonnade Way).

Special button 4-packs are available for $35 through December 24 at these select locations: Happy Valley Adventure Bureau, 201 W Beaver Avenue, and the Penn State Federal Credit Union, 1937 North Atherton Street, State College and 123 Amberleigh Lane, Bellefonte.

Buttons are available online at https://firstnightstatecollege.com/buy-a-button/ through December 17.

First Night relies on volunteers to staff performance venues on December 31. Volunteers should be at least 18 years of age or 16 when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Those interested in volunteering should contact the First Night office by telephone at (814) 237-3682 or by email at office@arts-festival.com.

The official website of First Night State College is firstnightstatecollege.com. The 2022 First Night State College Official Program Guide, published by Barash Media is available as an insert in Town & Gown magazine.

First Night State College is produced by the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts and is sponsored in part by the Borough of State College with grant support from the Centre County Commissioners and Happy Valley Adventure Bureau. The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts receives state arts funding support through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.

The Happy Valley Adventure Bureau cannot stress enough that we believe in responsible and safe travel. We do encourage visitors planning business or leisure travel to Happy Valley to refer to the following resources for reliable information and updates regarding COVID-19. Please keep in mind that some articles on this blog were written in a different age pre-virus. Please refer to the individual business websites for current status and hours available. HVAB links to business and other appropriate pages at every opportunity.