GODFREY - Numerous acts and entertainment will perform exciting shows and unique stunts during the 18th annual First Night River Bend, which will take place New Year's Eve on the Godfrey campus of Lewis and Clark Community College.

"The caliber of entertainment we have lined up this year is some of the very best," said Gail Drillinger, First Night co-program chair and entertainment coordinator. "People can come out this year and have their faces skillfully painted, make a silly hat, then have their picture taken to remember this New Year's Eve for years to come. There isn't a more entertaining or safer way to celebrate the New Year with the entire family."

Gracing the main stage inside the Hatheway Cultural Center will be the Lotus Arts Dance Company's belly dancing show; Swords and Roses - a sword-swinging, all female stunt show; and the Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band Bourbon Legend for two, back-to-back performances leading up to midnight.

At their 7 p.m. performance, Lotus Arts Dance Company dancers are guaranteed to bring the music to life. The audience will experience a dazzling Middle Eastern belly dance show featuring exotic music, swirling skill, glittering sequins and dynamic moves.

Swords and Roses will follow at 8 p.m. with a singing, sword-swinging, all female stunt show dedicated to entertain and inform. Actresses in period-authentic costumes will bring a play, original songs, family-friendly comedy and swashbuckling fun to the stage. There are two possible endings for every show, and the audience will choose how the experience will end.

Another crowd favorite returning to the main stage in Hatheway this year is three-time world champion whip cracker Chris Camp, who has been cracking his whip all around the world, entertaining crowds on Jay Leno and touring places such as Hong Kong, China and Athens, Greece.

Camp, who made his way onto the big screen in the 2006 film "Breaking and Entering," will perform numerous dare devil feats for the First Night audience at 9 p.m. Camp's valiant show is filled with stunts, history, physics, lots of whip cracking and joke cracking, too.

Other returning favorites to First Night River Bend include the comedy and magic of Chris Egelston, the top spinning of Hiroshi Tada, ice carvings by Chip Off the Block, air brush face paintings by Fantasy Faces, and numerous hands-on activities for the children.

The George C. Terry River Bend Arena will open at 6:30 p.m. with activities and performances for children of all ages. Returning favorite Steve Gryb, known as the Pied Piper of Percussion, will present a percussion show at 6:30 p.m. and once again offer his "Percussion Petting Zoo" from 7-9 p.m.

The "Percussion Petting Zoo" is a hands-on exhibit with hundreds of musical instruments from around the world. Children will have fun making unusual and strange sounds from such a wide variety of instruments.

Other activities to be featured in River Bend Arena include balloon twisting, rope making and clay sculpting. For a complete schedule of entertainers and events, visit www.lc.edu/firstnight.

Buttons are on sale now and available at Senior Services, Jersey Community Wellness Center, all Liberty Bank locations and at Party Magic in Godfrey. Buttons are $10 in advance, and $15 at the door. Seniors can purchase buttons for $7.50 in advance, and $10 at the door. All 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, singers, dancers, jugglers, magicians, and shows for people of all ages. First Night River Bend 2013 is a community project of Lewis and Clark Community College.

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