First Night Burlington to celebrate 25th anniversary

BURLINGTON -- First Night Burlington celebrates its 25th anniversary on Monday, December 31, from noon to midnight in downtown Burlington. The inclusive community arts festival is a showcase and a celebration of Vermonts rich artistic culture. The substance free community-wide party features theater, dance, music, story telling, visual arts, a fireworks show, teen talent shows and a parade. First Night was first held as a substance-free festival in Boston in 1976, and is now held in over 130 cities throughout the world. Burlington was the fourth city in the world to organize and host a First Night celebration, and it now draws thousands of people from throughout the region. Buttons cost between $6 and $17 and provide admission to a variety of special events held throughout the downtown area. Event seating is based on a first come, first serve basis, so be sure to check the schedule and arrive early for performances. Shows at the Flynn Center Main Stage and Memorial Auditorium require the purchase of additional tickets. Meter parking and city-owned parking garages are free after noon on the day of the celebration. Private garages also offer parking at a price. the city-wide overnight parking ban will be temporarily lifted for First Night, however cars must be removed from the streets if it snows. Free parking is also provided by the University of Vermont at the Water Tower on campus. Free shuttles will run from UVM to downtown Burlington and have been donated by the Chittenden County Transportation Authority (CCTA). City Market is once again providing a warm-up tent from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The big white tent is located right outside City Market, at 82 South Winooski Ave. Inside, you will find soup, mac and cheese, veggie chili, hot dogs, Pepsi products, hot beverages, and their famous giant-jumbo hot chocolate chip cookies. A portion of the proceeds benefit First Night Burlington, Inc., a not for profit organization that works hard every year to bring First Night to Vermont. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., the College Street Congregational Church is holding its Chili Supper in the Assembly Room. Come on by and enjoy a hot chili supper. From 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., the Green Steeple Cafe on the lower level of the First Baptist Church is serving up home made vegetarian chili, corn chowder, hot and cold sandwiches and cookies at a reasonable price. Proceeds benefit the church. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., the First United Methodist Church hosts its annual Beef Stew Supper. Warm up in the Fellowship Hall and enjoy their famous beef stew, as well as a variety of homemade baked goods and an assortment of hot beverages. A childrens menu will also be available, and proceeds benefit the church. If Italian food is what you want, stop by the Unitarian Church for their Lasagna Supper, running from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information or a complete 2008 Festival Schedule, Guide and Map, visit www.firstnightburlington.com or call 802-863-6005.

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