Thousands enjoy Tacoma's Ninth Annual First Night festivities

“In photo at right, Penny Rooks of Steilacoom, left, Marilyn Cunningham, of Seabeck, Wa., and Rooks’ father-in-law, Rev. John James Rooks of Lakeland, Fla., admire the Dale Chihuly installation, Sapphire and Citron, at the Washington State History Museum. Chihuly donated the installation for the public to enjoy during Tacoma’s First Night 2001 celebration. (Photo by Bonnie West)Wherever you were in downtown Tacoma for the county’s New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night, you were in the right place.Inside buildings or out in the streets there were only two requirements for the evening: 1. Have a great time. 2. Figure out what to enjoy next.Didn’t wear New Year’s accessories? You could decorate a bow tie and clip it to your clothes. Forgot your noisemakers? You could make one and toot to your heart’s content at midnight.The Ninth Annual First Night celebration provided an alternative way for families and friends to bring in the new year with art, music and dance everywhere you turned.Upstairs at the Phythian Temple, the Don Lanphere Quartet filled the hall with jazz notes, modern dancers moved gracefully at the Pantages Theater, and punk rock rattled the Sheraton Ballroom. Three friends wearing sparkling masks and walking arm in arm down Broadway, Becky Shaffer of Eugene, Or., Sally Falcone of Spanaway, and Jakki Hurinenko of Tacoma, said it was their fourth year to celebrate First Night with thousands of other people.Wouldn’t miss it! yelled Falcone over music being played on stage at the focus of the night’s festivities, Theatre Square. We love this party that never stops, but we wish we could find a kazoo! Got an extra kazoo? They had missed the kazoos being passed out for the merrymakers party and were still trying to locate them before the buzzing fun began.No matter where entertainment was going on elsewhere it wasn’t long before crowds made their way back to the stage where a variety of performances, from Caribbean steel drums and Hawaiian dancers, to Scottish bagpipes and comedy troupes brought laughter or foot-tapping fun. The highlight of the night was the celebrated moment when the year 2000 became 2001 with the unveiling of the Pinnacle of Light sculpture.From its base to its top were the outlines of children who, throughout the evening, had laid down on sheets of metal, had their bodies outlined with magic marker cut out by two teams of students from Bellarmine High School. The figures were welded to a 30-foot tower by Tacoma sculptor George Capestany.The whole point of it was to have a sculpture to have families, kids involved, Capestany said.Involved they were and when the lights shot out of the tower at midnight, the metal outlines of the children appeared to be dancing, celebrating their way to the top. Around its base a chorus of voices-young and old-celebrated in the new year. “