PORT TOWNSEND — Organizers were expecting to attract more than 300 people to the Jefferson County Historical Society’s 12th annual First Night celebration, if advanced sales are any indication of the event’s popularity.
“We had a lot more visibility this year and we went a bit crazier with our promotion,” said Angie Bartlett, the Historical Society’s Public Programs and Visitor Services manager.
Bartlett said the traditional fireworks show will again coincide with the time of the ball drop in New York City’s Times Square.
“Instead of a crystal ball, Port Townsend raises an illuminated anchor during the brilliant fireworks show. The fireworks are provided by local pyrotechnician and retired community dentist Dr. David Chuljian.
“This leaves time for adults to head out if they want to after the little ones are back home,” Bartlett said.
For adults, Joan Didian’s “The Year of Magical Thinking” — a one-woman performance — will be on stage at the Key City Public Theater, starring Vickie Daignault.
For children, blending fun and history is part of what the evening is all about.
“The Native American button blanket project correlates with our traveling education trunks program,” Bartlett said.
“One of the trunks is a Native American theme. On display, the trunk supplements the activity to give it more context and make it more interactive and educational for the kids.
“Squares of felt and white and fake abalone buttons will be available and they will be gluing rather than sewing them on. They’ll make shapes of whales, birds and other Native American designs using a template. Volunteers will help out with demonstrations and they get to take them home as a souvenir.”
Bartlett said a photo station in the art gallery is a first.
“We’ve never done anything like that before. We have a booth to take your pictures in little photo booth strips and get them printed right away for a donation. We have lots and lots of props and costumes.”
She said the first event was born out of a desire to create a family oriented evening in Port Townsend.
“The community said they wanted an alternative to the tradition of going out to bars and drinking. They wanted something more family friendly and community oriented. The idea of First Night is something that a lot of museums do throughout the country. It’s a nationwide thing. We are the only ones who do it on the Peninsula.
“We thought we’d open this up, break down the walls of the museum and make it a whole community-oriented party by getting other venues and other partners involved.”
Part of the fun, she said, is a place to write predictions and to hear a tarot reading about the future.
“Who doesn’t love to make predictions?” Bartlett asked.
She said the museum is predicting more family friendly educational programs in 2019.
“Things are going to happen every single week, beginning in February,” she said. “We’re also really excited about the upcoming First Friday Lecture Series.
She said each lecture will have a theme and in 2019 it will focus on Native American arts, culture and language.
She said there will be Native American scholars from every tribe on the North Olympic Peninsula participating in the series.
“It’s all very exciting,” Bartlett said. “We have a lot of new things planned for the future.”
Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at [email protected].