Several fans of Einstein Simplified have asked me if we will perform at First Night Knoxville again this year. Last week, WBIR reported that the celebration will be scaled back, which made me suspect that they won’t be hiring us. The city will still shoot fireworks and drop a ball at midnight. However, the “family-friendly, alcohol-free New Year’s Eve community celebration of the arts” will not occur. There will still be plenty to do downtown at bars and restaurants that are eager to supply revelers with food and drink.
I spotted one of the event’s organizers on Friday and asked him about it. He confirmed that he put First Night on hiatus in order to concentrate on expanding the International Biscuit Festival. The Biscuit Festival was started by the same group of people who organized the initial First Night Knoxville.
According to Wikipedia, “First Night began in Boston in 1976 by a small group of artists who sought an alternative way of celebrating New Year’s Eve, creating an event where the consumption of alcohol is banned.” Many cities around the country offer First Night celebrations sanctioned by First Night USA.
The alcohol-free parts of First Night Knoxville required an admission pin, which could be purchased in advance. The First Night venues in and around Market Square were interspersed with non-participating venues that served alcohol. If and when First Night Knoxville is resurrected, perhaps it should be moved to a part of town where there aren’t so many bars and restaurants.