First Night Springfield is on again this year and the Springfield Area Arts Council has planned a celebratory evening with some great partners that have been working to make this night memorable. Hoogland Center for the Arts will start the party by hosting free children's activities and crafts, such as designing bead bracelets and creating fireworks shakers, beginning at 1 p.m. Afterwards, head to the Union Baptist Church to catch the Watch Night program presented by writer Robert Davis at 4 p.m. It is a dramatization that recalls the night of Dec. 31, 1862, when enslaved and free African Americans gathered to await news that Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation. You'll have time to get back to the Hoogland by 7 p.m. when it will light up its stages and welcome performances by The Lovelorn, Capital Big Band, Thomas J. Beverly and Geoff Ryan, the Springfield International Folk Dancers and many other acts. Also, on the main floor gallery, you will find an exhibit of the works of members of the Sangamon Watercolor Society. A fireworks display at 8:15 p.m. will help ring in the New Year, too. Gather at the corner of Fourth Street and Capitol Avenue to get a good view of it. Light refreshments will be available throughout the day in the Hoogland Center lobby and festivities will continue through 10:30 p.m. The children's activities, Watch Night program and fireworks are free and the family friendly entertainment at 6-10 p.m. is $20 for adults and $5 for children. Enjoy the evening and have a happy New Year.

First Night Springfield
Saturday, Dec. 31, 1-10 p.m.
Hoogland Center for the Arts
420 S. Sixth St.
Union Baptist Church
1405 E. Monroe St.

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