First Night 2012, Part One

View of Krutch Park, First Night Knoxville, 2012

It seems odd to call it First Night 2012 because most of what happened happened before midnight, but I suppose the rest of the night that followed was what we were kicking off. I hope you got to enjoy some of the festivities of the night in the city. If you didn’t I’ll try to give you a run-down of the parts I was able to capture. It was far too much for anyone to do it all. I really would have enjoyed having it spread over several nights so I could enjoy more of what was offered, but I guess “First Nights” doesn’t have quite the same ring.

From everything I saw, it was a great night. At one point, I was told, the News Sentinel estimated ten thousand attended and I think that would be a pretty low estimate. It was extremely crowded where you would expect, of course: Market Square and Krutch Park. There were large numbers of people walking either side of Gay Street and the activities and concerts offered divided people into sub-groups all over the downtown area.

Large crane behind Market Square Stage

Inflatable games on Market Street

A large, projected clock on the Market Square Stage displayed the time until the new year staring about dusk. Behind it a massive crane held a shining ball designed to be dropped as the midnight hour struck. Inflatable games and bungee jumping covered a full block of Market Street. Face painting and children’s events were held early for the young ones. Vendors set up to sell food guaranteed to destroy your health and 2012 hats and trinkets were prominently displayed. The ice skating rink continued unabated by all the activity around it (it will continue through this week as Knox County schools are out).

I avoided the trinkets and hats, but my one funnel cake a year has to be part of my New Year’s celebration. Disgusting, I know. I enjoyed the children laughing and running about and the Christmas lights in Krutch Park as the events got underway. I really think for some of these children this must seem magical. I think they will remember it fondly. And even an old guy can enjoy a good funnel cake now and again.

Bad food and cheap trinkets for your night of revelry.
Bungee jumping beside Market Square

As the night wore on I think most people had a good time. I came across several families having meltdowns and I wondered what makes people think small children are going to be able to ingest massive amounts of sugar, have intense fun for a while and then be able to patiently wait for something they don’t understand that the adults seem excited about. I also saw a few people who had too much to drink, but all in all, I think it was a pretty quiet night for the police and other emergency workers awaiting a call.

Ice falling still available!

The main draw, of course, was all the scattered music of every variety, poetry, comedy, circus events. I was also told that around 5,000 tickets to First Night events were sold. I’ll have to blog about the various events separately. It’s just too much for one blog post. I ran from one thing to another and caught parts of some artists, most of others and all of one, while missing many.

Carrie Rodriguez brings in the New Year

Urban Couple says, “Happy New Year!”

The night ended with the crowd counting down the seconds until midnight at which point fireworks exploded. I never longed to be among the crowds at Time Square, but this is fun. Especially if you live downtown and are able to be back home at about 12:03. Lovers kissed and smiled. The ball, unfortunately must have hit a snag and didn’t descend until about a minute after midnight. Maybe that portends a slower, more laid back year for all of us. I’ll happily take that.

The crowd viewed from Tomato Head
Fireworks announce 2012, Knoxville!