Fireworks will again be a part of the plan for this year’s Port Townsend First Night celebration Sunday night. (Jefferson County Historical Society)

Fireworks will again be a part of the plan for this year’s Port Townsend First Night celebration Sunday night. (Jefferson County Historical Society)

First Night 2018 celebration to welcome new year in Port Townsend

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend’s First Night family festival of arts and entertainment will be held Sunday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., concluding with an anchor raising and fireworks show at Memorial Field.

This is the 11th year for the celebration in Port Townsend.

Spread out across seven venues downtown, the celebration features alcohol-free events for children and adults. Admission is by donation with a suggestion of $5 per person or $10 for a family.

Pass available

Passes are available now at the museum or in the City Hall lobby during the event.

“The celebration happens right downtown, in various locations all within walking distance of one another,” explained Jenny Westdal, Jefferson County Historical Society president.

“It culminates at 9 p.m. with our anchor raising and fireworks show at Memorial Field. We chose 9 p.m. because that’s when it’s midnight on the East Coast. Children can witness the excitement of our countdown and then go home,” said Westdal.

“Parents can go out and celebrate after that. Older folks who don’t like to stay up late anymore can just relax into the new year.”

Activities for everyone

According to Bill Tenant, executive director of the Jefferson County Historical Society, there are plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained.

“Throughout City Hall there are games, films, choral music and a live raptor display. At the Pope Marine Building, there’s call dancing. Key City Playhouse performers will present a variety show. At both Elevated Ice Cream and the Boiler Room, there’s live music. Arts and crafts projects are based at The Jefferson Community School. This year they’ll make decorative boxes,” he said.

The evening culminates in an anchor raising and fireworks display precisely at 9 p.m. Raffle prizes are awarded after the show.

“The fireworks show has been generously provided by local dentist and pyrotechnician Dr. David Chuljian since the beginning of the festival,” Tenant said.

“He had a back injury this year and Olympic Peninsula Steam has stepped up to provide help with the labor involved in staging the display.”

The anchor was designed and created by local artist Thaddeus Jurczynski. It’s made from bamboo and is illuminated with LEDs.

Gus Sebastian of Olympic Boat Transport & Crane provides behind-the-scenes help to hoist the anchor.

“My 10-year-old daughter, Tallulah, is in charge of operating the hydraulics to lift the anchor,” said Sebastian.

“She presses the button. She’ll get it done precisely on time.”

Started in 1976

First held in Boston in 1976 as a celebration of the arts and cultural heritage, First Night has become an alternate way to usher in the New Year.

More than 200 cities and towns in 30 states hold events at indoor and outside venues, focusing on family programming with a non-alcohol policy.

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