Crews working to set up First Night in Raleigh for New Year’s Eve

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s full speed ahead for First Night Raleigh.

“It’s fun to see all the new rides go up –and it’s grown,” downtown Raleigh resident Liz Felmet said.

The New Year’s Eve celebration is a tradition in downtown Raleigh. For nearly three decades, it’s been a night filled with music and activities, culminating in the famous Acorn Drop.

“It’s not every day you see a massive two-ton acorn dangling above the city,” Artsplosure Marketing Director Amanda Bittner said.

Caleb Craver has fond memories of going to First Night, growing up in the Triangle.

“I’m kind of like walking down memory lane right here,” Craver said while strolling along Fayetteville Street Monday morning. “I look forward to Christmas a lot, but as a kid, I really looked forward to coming to this.”

For Vivien Zhong, this year’s First Night will be a first for her.

“This will be interesting to see what kind of events, music or food, any performance,” Zhong said.  

For six months, organizers have worked with Raleigh police, going over safety measures.

“We’ll have a ton of RPD planning here on-site at multiple venues, at the main stage, all throughout Fayetteville Street,” Bittner said.

Last year, a bullet from celebratory gunfire struck a college student attending First Night.

“It’s definitely concerning,” Bittner said. “It’s something that we’ve addressed with Raleigh police officers that we’ve been dealing with in all of our planning up front.”

According to the Associated Press, Raleigh Police said the city gets a small number of calls related to gunfire during New Year’s Eve celebrations.

Raleigh Police Sgt. Rich Marx said New Year’s Eve is one of their busiest nights of the year.

“I think most of our calls are for fireworks, but occasionally some people think it’s a good or wise thing to do to fire a gun in the air, and that can have terrible repercussions,” Marx told CBS 17.

He said police will have plenty of extra staffing, including for First Night, making sure everyone has a safe start to 2020.

Marx said anyone taking part in celebratory gunfire can be charged with illegally discharging a firearm within city limits.

Raleigh police said everyone ringing in the new year Tuesday should aware of surroundings, and have a buddy system in place.

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