The Balloon Man enchants.Photo by Mary DeJong

With magic, comedy and music, First Night Evanston returned on Dec. 31, thanks to the hard work of many volunteers. Centered around Raymond Park, the family-friendly festival showcased a variety of cultural and musical offerings to appreciative audiences. Musicians Howard Levy, Bobby Broom, Corky Siegel and his Chamber Blues, Joel Frankel and others, Marc Smith’s poetry slam, Professor Marvel’s Flea Circus and
Nili Yellin, the Storybook Mom entertained attendees at six venues around Raymond Park.

“People loved that it was so compact: If you stood at Chicago and Lake Street, you could see all six sites. We gathered on the steps at the Music Institute of Chicago at 11:55, counted down to midnight, First Congregational Church’s newly refurbished bells rang in the new year, we sang Auld Lang Syne and went home,” said Emily Guthrie, who spearheaded the revival of First Night.

About 2,400 people attended First Night, Ms. Guthrie said. “We plan to expand for 2014 but not by much, maybe just picking up another room or two or three at some of the sites we used this year,” she added.