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The second installment of the resurrected First Night Evanston entertained hundreds of visitors on New Year’s Eve.
Emily Guthrie, one of the organizers of First Night Evanston, said two of the highlights were wandering poets and a reading from Shakespeare.
“The Poetry Foundation funded six wandering poets who popped up at various venues during intermissions and gathered people outdoors to recite poetry to them. Bennison’s Bakery provided 3,000 cookies to be given away by the poets. And there was more poetry in a teen poetry slam at Immanuel Lutheran, another slam at First Congregational and a lot of poetry at Walker Chapel by the Rhino Poets.”
Students from Northwestern University’s Waa Mu show acted as emcees at most venues and read poetry from a 1903 edition of Evanston Poets.
Another surprise popup, Ms. Guthrie said, was former Mayor Lorraine Morton, who read from “Taming of the Shrew,” the part of Kate which she played at the age of 17. “So we had her read it again 80 years later. She was great.”
David Davis and the Warrior River Boys, Ms. Guthrie said, “were a bit of a coup for us. They are a bluegrass band that I am told has not performed in the Chicago area before. Also the family programming in the afternoon at MacLeish Hall at Lake Street Church attracted a crowd of nearly 300 to hear Joel Frankel emcee a kids’ hooley played by the Irish School of Music, as well as performances by Whistling Pig, Truly Remarkable Loon and Mad Science, all of which were a lot of fun.”
Second City Improv performed two shows at First Methodist Church, a return engagement for First Night after 10 years.
First Night Board member Thom Duncan told the RoundTable, “As a board member and one of a couple hundred volunteers, my First Night is a busy evening of work so I actually get little chance to see the performances. What I do see is the enthusiasm of nearly 3,000 people from Evanston and our neighboring towns who come out for a night of truly exceptional entertainment. There’s no New Year’s event in all of Chicago where you can enjoy so many professional acts for the price of a couple movie tickets. We definitely want to keep the tradition alive, and that requires the enthusiastic and ongoing support of the community and local businesses such as the RoundTable. We’re grateful for the response we get each year that helps make First Night a great night.”
Ms. Guthrie said board members have already held an evaluation meeting about First Night and “we are already talking about next year.”