Nobody can say for sure what 2015 will bring, but this year at First Night State College, somebody is willing to give it a try.
The New Year’s Eve celebration will include a fortune teller, Madame Babushka, at 3 p.m. at Schlow Centre Region Library — just one of the many downtown attractions scheduled for the annual community festival bidding farewell to the old year and ushering in the new.
Once again, ice sculptures will return as crowd favorites from 10 a.m. to midnight along the closed-off section of South Allen Street between College and Beaver avenues, at the Sidney Friedman Park, in the State College Municipal Building plaza and in front of several businesses.
Sculptures will be carved from specially made clear blocks each weighing 265 pounds. The public can watch sculptors hard at work with their saws and other tools on Dec. 30 and Dec. 31.
On First Night, though, one giant creation will be more than a glittering decoration.
The ice slide, a perennial favorite in Sidney Friedman Park, always provides a frosty ride made from about 50 blocks.
“The ice slide is consistently the most popular thing at First Night,” event Executive Director Rick Bryant said. “It has a line when it first opens. ... I think there would be a riot if we took that away.”
Other staples back for New Year’s Eve include “fire sculptures” in the park for casting regrets from 2014 written on wooden blocks into flames and the Edison Clothesline display on Allen Street, where revelers can pin resolutions for the coming year.
Resolutions also can be attached to The Burning Man, a figure exhibited in the municipal building lobby and then ignited at 11:15 p.m. in the park, near where the traditional Fire Bells can be rung from noon to midnight in honor of 2015.
More opportunities to ponder your future or past will come from the hands of Pittsburgh artist Bill Godfrey. Spin his Wheel of Fortune in the Mayor Welch Plaza in front of the municipal building, or jot down your hopes, dreams or regrets and tie them to The First Night Phoenix in the building lobby.
Various concerts and other performances will take place at downtown churches. Most require a First Night button, available for $10 at the First Night office at 403 S. Allen St., Suite 205A, and other State College locations. Call the office at 237-3682 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Buttons also are necessary for horse-drawn carriage rides through downtown State College. Available on a first-come, first-served basis, they cost an additional $5.
One First Night newcomer is “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” a musical from the local Singing Onstage youth drama company that replaces a rock band review. Performances will be at 4 and 7:30 p.m. at the Fairmount Avenue School, home of the Delta Program.
“It’s a cute, family-friendly show,” Bryant said. “It’s very funny.”
Other scheduled acts include vaudeville comedy performers, a mentalist, a hypnotist, belly dancers, puppeteers and musicians representing a wide range of genres.
Bryant hopes the weather cooperates and strikes the right balance.
“It’s very weather-centric,” he said. “People always say, ‘I hope it’s cold enough for the night.’ I hope it’s warm enough that people come to it.”