CARLISLE — Last year’s First Night Carlisle visitors asked for changes, and the event’s board took those requests seriously.
This year’s event will not only feature new performers, but it will also change the pinnacle event of the night. Instead of the annual car drop, the board settled on raising a large replica of the winning button, which is used for admission to the night’s festivities.
“The button will rise from the top of the truck at 6 feet up to a height of about 21 feet in 30 seconds,” said E.K. Weitzel, chairwoman of the event’s board. “Everybody has a drop. We wanted to uplift our spirits. You have a crowd averting their eyes upward, and the next thing is going to be the fireworks.”
The First Night board approached Tuckey Metal Fabricators in Carlisle to create something that could raise a large button for the event. The final result is an aluminum frame that weighs about 50 pounds, and a lift pulley system made out of steel and cabling will be used to raise the button. The pulley system is accented with white rope LEDs, according to Matt Tuckey, business development director.
“As a longtime platinum sponsor of First Night Carlisle, the Tuckey Companies are excited to have the opportunity to further engage in this community event,” Tuckey said. “The team at Tuckey Metal Fabricators were glad to help fabricate a lift system to fit what the First Night board envisioned. We are eager to see the button raised, enjoy the fire-works, and most of all, to support our community in this way.”
First Night Carlisle formerly featured a drop of Mini Indy car — something that is relatively new to the celebrations. Though the annual event has featured fireworks, the car drop wasn’t featured until First Night Carlisle’s 10th anniversary in 2006. The car was collected and kept by John W. Gleim Jr. Inc. Excavating in Carlisle, and has been featured in festivities every year since, except 2010 when First Night was canceled and last year.
Given the response from visitors from last year’s survey, board members thought this a perfect time to rethink what happens at midnight for the 16th annual event.
“We got a lot of feedback from people saying they wanted to see new performers and new acts,” said Mary Ann Parks, who runs the website and social media for the event. “We thought it would be a good time to do this.”
It was Parks’ idea that eventually evolved into the final design of the new item.
“We bounced around a lot of ideas,” she said. “The idea I initially had whittled down to the button. I thought we could have the numbers representing the year, and the button would be the zero in the year — the last digits would be changeable each year. Unfortunately that was a little too complicated, and it ended up getting shortened down to just the button.”
Parks said she is excited to see the button rising but is also excited about what this means for the child who wins the button contest. Each year, First Night Carlisle hosts the contest in which a child can turn in a drawing using the year’s theme, and the winning drawing will be used as a button for patrons who want to attend performances and activities associated with First Night Carlisle.
This year’s winner was Wilson Middle School student Isabella Greene, 11, who designed a drawing for the theme “Lite up the Nite.” Runners up included Caroline Grindle of St. Patrick School, Zoya Schmitt of Lamberton Middle School, Alexandra Sonfield of Carlisle, Grace Hoffman of Mooreland Elementary School, Lola Gehman of Mooreland Elementary, Katherine Hilfiker of St. Patrick School, Addison Brewbaker of Mooreland Elementary, and finalists Eliza Wright of Hamilton Elementary and Keri Brewbaker of Mooreland Elementary.
“Imagine being a kid that age and seeing your artwork on a huge button that is being raised above however many thousand people — because a huge crowd comes out for the fireworks,” Parks said.
The button will not be the only new part of First Night Carlisle.
While there will be popular acts who will return — Elvis impersonator Brad Crum and musician Ric LeBlanc — the board listened to what visitors had to say and have worked since February to come up with fresh entertainment
Two new main acts to perform at the Carlisle Theatre will be country recording artist Payton Taylor and Ducky Duke & The Vintage, whose frontman Matt Schmohl of the Harrisburg area auditioned on NBC’s “The Voice.”
Other acts include Acoustic Stew at the Old Courthouse, live hip-hop/funk/jazz group Mad Men at Comfort Suites and Celtic Martins at First United Church of Christ.
Though this year’s schedule is set, Parks said the board is always looking for ideas, which can be submitted via the event’s Facebook page.
Weitzel said there are also a few board members who will be leaving the board after First Night Carlisle 2014 is over, so there is also interest to recruit new board members, as well as volunteers for this coming event. Those interested in volunteering can call the Carlisle Theatre at 258-0666 and leave a message for Cindy Wilson.
For more information about the event itself, check out First Night Carlisle’s website at firstnightcarlisle.org.
This year’s buttons are $10 through close of business Dec. 30. After that, buttons may only be purchased on Dec. 31 at the Carlisle Theatre for $15. Children ages 5 and younger may attend festivities for free.
Buttons can be purchased at The Carlisle Theatre at 44 W. High St., M&T Bank Carlisle locations and Giant Food Stores at 255 S. Spring Garden St. at its customer service counter during regular business hours.
Buttons can also be purchased online through PayPal. For more information, visit firstnightcarlisle.org.