Countdown To First Night Chatham

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: First Night

Party girls (from left) Bette Hahner, Susan West and Carol Garey, at First Night Headquarters. ALAN POLLOCK PHOTO

CHATHAM If you’ve got nothing else planned for Sunday night, how about ringing in 2018 with a few thousand close friends? First Night Chatham, the only first night east of Sandwich, sports a 1960s theme this year and is revved up and ready for fun.

The family-friendly New Year’s Eve party starts Sunday afternoon and continues with music, dance and artistic fun right up until midnight, when the event ends with the dropping of the Countdown Cod and fireworks at the Oyster Pond.

Button sales have been brisk, according to staff at First Night Headquarters, located at 597 Main St. This year, a large number of buttons have been sold online through the organization’s website, Buttons routinely sell out prior to New Year’s Eve, but not always; patrons are advised to call 508-945-1122 for updates. While buttons aren’t needed for most of First Night’s outdoor events, they are required to access most of the indoor venues. Seating is limited for most venues, and buttons don’t provide guaranteed admission.

The afternoon is filled with kid-friendly acts and events designed to capture the attention of all kinds of youngsters. The Toe Jam Puppet Band features active performances that encourage children and parents to sing and dance along as the band entertains with a unique combination of original songs, masterful shadow puppetry, storytelling and just plain old good fun. Shows are at 1 and 2 p.m. at the community center. At 2 and 3 at St. Christopher’s Church, Rick Goldin will invite kids to sing, dance and jump along with him and his singing animal puppets. And children and parents alike will marvel at the Keltic Kids, an award-winning Celtic music band made up of local youngsters and teens, playing shows at 1 and 2 p.m. at St. Christopher’s Church.

A not-to-be-missed event for families with kids happens at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. in the middle school auditorium, when the HeartStrings Dance Company from Reaching Heart School of Ballet in Harwich performs excerpts from “The Nutcracker.” New at First Night Chatham this year is “Cookie And Ooch,” the performance team of Brett Outchcunis and his cousin Krisanthi Pappas, who will perform at 3 p.m. at the community center.

By 6 p.m., First Night patrons should find their way to the corner of Main and Cross streets, where the Noise Parade will kick off. Using every variety of noisemaker, participants will march up Main Street to Veterans Field, where an early fireworks show takes place.

Though there are still lots of fun activities for kids, the evening’s acts cater more to adult tastes in music and the arts. The Beach Dawgs, a collection of top musicians from New York and New Jersey, evoke the same classic guitar riffs and rich harmonies that the Beach Boys made famous, performing three shows at the Chatham Elementary School gym at 9, 10 and 11 p.m.

Another new act this year is a concert by soprano Vira Slywotsky and pianist David Sytkowski, dubbed “Oh those ‘60s: Around The World And Through The Ages,” in honor of this year’s First Night theme. In their 9 p.m. show at St. Christopher’s Church, the duo will perform classic and popular songs from the U.S. and overseas, with tunes from the 1860s, 1760s, 1660s and 1560s.

Because downtown parking is very limited, patrons are encouraged to use the free First Night shuttle buses, which will operate 1 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. between the rotary and satellite parking lots at Monomoy Middle School, the elementary school on Depot Road, Holy Redeemer Church and the Oyster Pond.

As always, First Night revelers will welcome the new year with a larger fireworks display at the Oyster Pond at midnight. But first, there will be a rousing sing-along with Chatham’s own Scott Hamilton, who will lead the group in a musical countdown to 2018. The Countdown Cod, a sparkling, shimmering illuminated codfish, will once again provide Chatham’s homage to the Times Square Ball before the fireworks light up the sky.