First Night to celebrate New Year’s Eve

Circus, lantern parade, theater, fireworks planned

PORT TOWNSEND — Port Townsend is shaping up to be the place to be for New Year’s Eve celebrations with The Production Alliance pulling out all the stops to ring in the new year with First Night.

“This is going to be an exceptional year,” said Danny Milholland, director of operations for The Production Alliance. “There are a bunch of different activities happening all over downtown Port Townsend.”

First Night is an all-ages celebration on Saturday that kicks off at 3 p.m. and continues until 9 p.m. with live music and performances, games, interactive events, exhibits, food and fireworks.

“The Production Alliance inherited this event from the Jefferson County Historical Society,” Milholland said.

“They had been producing this event for over 13 years, and then last year they passed the torch to us. They continue to be a partner in the production.”

There was no event in 2020 due to COVID restrictions, said Megan Claflin, director of development for The Production Alliance.

“We are really honored to do this and it’s a great event and I think we have put together a nice assortment of activities for everyone,” she said.

There is a suggested $10 donation for individuals and a $20 donation for families with children for the festivities.

“Folks do not need to pre-purchase tickets to this event,” Milholland said. “They can come to any one of the locations and there will be kiosks where folks can make a donation and they’ll get a sticker, and from there forward, they won’t need to make a second donation.”

“It’s just how we do our events,” Claflin said. “We don’t want anyone to feel excluded so we aren’t going to turn people away if they can’t make a donation.”

Milholland described the First Night event as a self-guided tour of indoor and outdoor activities.

For example, visitors can take in a 40-minute circus and acrobatics demonstration titled Cirque du Premiere Nuit at Brigid’s Loft at 647 Washington St.

Show times are 3:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. Doors open 20 minutes before the show for pre-sale ticket holders and 10 minutes before for general seating.

From 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Cotton Building, 607 Water St., Northwind Art is hosting a craft activity where folks can come and decorate their own lantern. Later, they can show it off during the lantern parade, which begins at 7 p.m. on Madison Street and will be led by The Unexpected Brass Band.

Jefferson County Museum of Art & History, at 540 Water St., will offer a scavenger hunt, historical puzzles and an opportunity for people to write down their resolutions and put them in a bottle.

The Key City Theatre, at 419 Washington St., will have a series of theatrical and musical performances as well as host improvisational party games.

The theatre also will provide snacks, hot drinks and mocktails in the lobby. The lobby bar will open at 2:30 p.m. for adults 21 and older with its outdoor patio and indoor vestibules serving as places to view the fireworks show at 9 p.m.

“The tradition of ending things at 9 p.m. started years ago,” Claflin said, explaining that this is the time when people on the West Coast can see the ball drop in New York City.

That is “great for families with young kids or folks who don’t want to be out too late,” Claflin said.

Those who do want to be out until the wee hours of New Year’s can find bars and restaurants hosting private events.

For the First Night event though, in addition to the restaurants and the lobby at Key City Theatre, folks can get their food and non-alcoholic libations from Olympus Hot Dogs & Gyros, High Country Donuts, and Java Gypsy at Pope Marine Park.

All of the proceeds from the event will go towards other events put on by The Production Alliance which produces a number of events in and around Jefferson County.

The rest of the North Olympic Peninsula will ring in the new year in a much quieter fashion.

In Port Angeles, the Winter Ice Village will be open until 9 p.m. on Saturday, reopening at noon on New Year’s Day.

No public events have been reported as scheduled for Forks, Sequim or other regions on the Peninsula.


Reporter Ken Park can be reached at

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