Have Twins, Will Travel

First Night Family Festival

Boston, Mass – Boston held the country’s first First Night way back in 1975. For those not familiar with the New Year’s Eve event, it’s a jam-packed schedule of performances, art exhibits, interactive activities, ice sculptures and fireworks, held at venues all around the city, all accessible with a $10 “First Night” button. It’s a brilliant concept: there is truly something for everyone, it’s affordable for everyone, and it requires little advance planning.

But truth be told, we have not done First Night since the last millennium, and I’ll tell you why. I have only vague memories of performances and art exhibits. My memories are of long lines, crowded venues, and cold. Bitter cold. Once you get past the idea that you need to do something “special” on New Years Eve, Chinese food and movie marathons are so much more appealing.

Of course, when we have children, we gain a new appreciation for so many things, don’t we?

This year I learned that First Night actually starts on New Year’s Eve Day. Who knew? Turns out, there is an entire afternoon of children’s programming, known as the Family Festival, that is held in the Hynes Convention Center. That’s right–it’s all indoors.

I’m sure it’s different every year, but this year activities on offer included: face painting, arts & crafts, roller skating, silent dance party, puppet workshop, story telling, Anime marathon, magic shows, yoga for kids, dance performances, trivia contests, circus performers, robots, etc. You get the picture.

The afternoon culminates with the Grand Procession, an awesome parade that goes down Boylston Street from the convention center to the Boston Common, followed by fireworks over the Common. An efficient parent could do all that, and still have the kids in bed by 8pm. (At least, I imagine an efficient parent could do that. I wouldn’t know for sure.)

DSC_0096 (2)We spent the entire afternoon at the Family Festival, sampling the various activities. We went roller skating; we danced with headphones on (at least some of us did, while others sulked); we made Chinese lanterns; we watched bike stunts; we did yoga… We even wandered along Boylston Street as the parade was assembling, though we didn’t stay for the procession itself.

DSC_0118 (2)Some of the events were a hit with the twins and some were a flop. But it didn’t matter too much, as there was so little investment in any one activity. The twins thought it was fun to try roller skating, but they couldn’t really let go of the wall without toppling over. So after 10 minutes, we took off our skates and moved on to the next activity. Twin S had his heart set on doing some craft projects, which does not get his brother excited at all. But it was easy to appease Twin V for 20 or 30 minutes, with promises of seeing trampoline acrobats afterwards.

The highlight? For the twins, I’m pretty the highlight was when they were allowed to pick out multicolored flashing light-up toys for our New Year’s Eve “party” at home. A lightsaber and pirate sword. Not included with your First Night button.

For me, I have to admit, it was fun to do something “special” on New Year’s Eve. Nonetheless, my highlight was still the Chinese food and movie marathon.

Happy New Year to all! Here’s to many adventures in 2015!