First Night celebration returns, over 150 attend

Face painting was popular for children of all ages. Above, volunteer Danielle Beaver, left, paints the face of Georgia Haas. 7. Children had several designs to choose from which Beaver drew.

Richard Froese
South Peace News

First Night returned to High Prairie to celebrate New Year’s Eve.

People flocked to the Sports Palace for the family-focused event hosted by Bethel Baptist Church, the first since 2015.

“It was an amazing fun and safe family event,” says Lois Dunn.

“There were lots of families with children under nine years old and that’s what the event is for.”

She estimates more than 150 people attended the festivities held from 6-10 p.m.

“I think it’s more than what we usually get for the event,” Dunn says.

“I actually expected fewer people because we were starting it again after two years.”

First Night was not held in 2016 and 2017.

Some families drove from as far away as Gift Lake, Dunn says.

People of all ages enjoyed an evening of crafts, face painting, ice skating, friendship, hotdogs, popcorn and hot chocolate.

A ceremonial time to ring in the new year at 9:30 p.m. heightened the spirit, although the crowd was much smaller.

First Night may have been the largest New Year’s event in the region among other parties and festivities.

Support for First Night continues to grow as organizers consider adding a partner in the future.

“I’d like to see another local church organize the event in alternating years,” Dunn.

“It definitely doesn’t have to be a Bethel Baptist Church event.”

First Night was started in 2006 by her brother, Peter Dunn, and his wife, Colleen, to provide a safe and fun family event to celebrate the New Year. After that, the event was organized by then-pastor Eric Kregel before he moved away in November 2014 to Edmonton.

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