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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Swing Band to Kick Off First Night

By James Lomuscio

There’s something new at Westport’s 23rd annual First Night this year – the Westport Center for Senior Activities debuts as a venue with its hosting of the Survivors Swing Band. Image
First Night buttons are on sale for $15. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Contributed photo

The performance on Saturday, Dec. 31 at 3 p.m. will kick off the alcohol-free New Year’s Eve event, which itself is a survivor. It and Hartford’s are the only remaining First Nights in Connecticut.

“We’re actually putting performers in there that we have used in the library in the past,” said Barbara Pearson-Rac, president of First Night Westport Weston.

Adding the new location gives the town’s seniors, who comprise more than 20 percent of Westport’s population, an opportunity to have the center open and active that night, she said.

And active it will be, she said, describing the Big Band Era swing sounds, the likes of Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, etc., to keep the center hopping.

The name of the five-member band has to do with their ages – all in their 80s, Pearson-Rac said, and the fact that the years have not slowed them down.

That is the earliest event of the day, she said. Carriage rides start at 3:30 p.m. and other events begin at 4 p.m., with everything coming to an end at 8 p.m.

That is so that all attendees can to rally to Jesup Green for fireworks launched from a barge in the Saugatuck River from 8:15 to 8:30 p.m.

The tide table and the barge’s ability to navigate the river determined the fireworks timing, Pearson-Rac explained.

Throughout the evening, Jesup Green will host a warming fire pit, kettle corn and stargazing courtesy of the Westport Astronomical Society and its telescope.

Town Hall, the Westport Historical Society, the Seabury Center, Branson Hall at Christ & Holy Trinity Church, and Saugatuck Elementary School are among the key venues.

“Town Hall is hopping,” Pearson-Rac said, pointing to the Silver Steel Band sponsored by Fairfield-based Bigelow Teas, which will host a tea room on site.

The Westport Community Theater in the Town Hall basement will also offer First Night attendees free access to two one-act plays.

For parents with young children, Saugatuck Elementary, with its wide halls “perfect for strollers” offers family friendly fare with balloon artists, the Magic Genie, an inflatable park in the school’s gymnasium, face painting and a ventriloquist, Pearson-Rac said.

Other highlights include: jazz pianist Mark Naftalin, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame two years ago; Dennis the Train Man, set to transform the Westport Library’s McManus Room into a model electric train wonderland; and musician Chris Coogan at the Seabury Center, not to mention a jug band and a Zumba class there, too.

First Night buttons, which grant access to all events, are $15 each, free for children 2 and under.

For further information visit


Posted 12/22/16 at 05:21 PM  Permalink


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