The 19th annual First Night River Bend will be a night of fun, entertainment, activities and fabulous firsts on New Year’s Eve at the Godfrey campus of Lewis and Clark Community College.

For the first time, this year’s family-friendly entertainment will run from 3-7 p.m., exclusively in the newly renovated Hatheway Cultural Center.

“We have seen the number of young families who attend First Night go up, while watching overall attendance numbers dwindle later in the evening,” said John Nell, director of the First Night steering committee. “These new hours were set with those young families in mind and allow them to plan for other family activities after First Night. We are also hoping to keep families out of the cold as much as possible by keeping all the First Night fun under one roof.”

Before First Night concludes with one fantastic fireworks show at 7 p.m., attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy the magical talents of Master Illusionist Keith Jozsef from 3:30-4:30 p.m. and the music of the Redhead Express and The Walker Family from 5-6:45 p.m. Both acts will appear on the Hatheway stage.

Throughout the entire event, the Hatheway Gallery will also be abuzz with a variety of activities including face painting, hat making and other hands-on happenings. Casey the Entertainer will be stilt walking and juggling, while Miss Molly and Mr. Flakes create delightful balloon art.

As usual, caricaturists Bill Michel and Mike Dooley will be set up in the Hatheway foyer to capture the smiling faces of First Night.

“I believe families will find the change refreshing and appropriate,” Nell said. “We have kept many of the creative activities that children love while introducing new entertainers that are sure to please audience members of all ages.”

First Night buttons will go on sale Dec. 2 at Party Magic and all Liberty Bank locations. Buttons are $10. Children 5 and under are admitted free.

First Night River Bend is an alcohol-free, family-oriented New Year’s Eve celebration of the arts, featuring live music, juggling, magic and activities for people of all ages. First Night River Bend 2014 is a community project of Lewis and Clark Community College in conjunction with the Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation, the village of Godfrey, WBGZ and The Telegraph.

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