Countdown to First Night Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The New Year is quickly approaching and First Night Charlotte is bigger and better than ever.

The preparations are already underway for this year's celebration.

Organizers have moved the footprint of the event somewhat and expanded the kids' activities.

The largest First Night event in the southeast is getting bigger.

"Once we got this location here.. it was just perfect."

The event itself is centered around the city's new arts venues, centered around the Levine Avenue for the Arts which they'll shut down on Saturday.

Monday afternoon we took a tour of the sites with the man who will produce the event for Charlotte Center City Partners Robert Krumbine.

"There's going to be entertainment literally from this stage all the way to the Hall of Fame."

From the main stage beside the Bechtler Museum, and onto The Green, next to the Charlotte Convention Center and down to the NASCAR Hall of Fame (where the WBT Holiday on Ice is located) organizers have expanded the things to do for kids.

And moved the activities from where they were last year on North Tyron Street down to South Tryon.

What they're calling First Night Kids runs from 12-noon to 5pm and will feature more than a dozen different events among them juggling, magic, games and a percussion petting zoo.

"It's cultural entertainment for younger people.. that's really what it's about. and It's a lot of fun."

Ever since the first Crown went up and the fireworks went off the resurrected First Night Charlotte (this will be the fourth year) the event has grown becoming now the largest First Night in the southeast.

A crowd of 45,000 turned out last year.  Krumbine and company are looking for a bigger crowd this time since it's coming on a weekend.

"I would think it'll be a little easier for folks to get out and it is a Saturday.. how about getting out of the house? Let's get away from the stores.. get down away from all of that."

Also new this year organizers will enlist the aid of Men Who Care Global - the same group who helped police keep the peace during July 4th festivities.

Organizers expect to have 500 adults who will encourage young to stay out of trouble and avoid some of the activities that have marred past Uptown Charlotte events.

"I think this is going to be a tradition. We'll have them around at these really big events to sorta be that folk.. they get a chance to touch. It's not just police officers telling people to move on."

"First Night Kids" runs from 12-noon to 5pm on Saturday.

Evening activities kick off at 8 o'clock and conclude with the lighting of the Charlotte crown and fireworks at midnight.

To get into the venues you'll need a wristband.

Wristbands cost $10 for adults.  Kids ages 5-to-12 are $5.

Money to put on the event comes from sponsorships and ticket sales.

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