The Shoppes at Akron Centre bustled on New Year’s Eve as children led their parents and siblings from face-painting and origami stations to a Soap Box Derby display.
At a table hosted by the Akron Area YMCA, the youngsters painted peaceful messages on quilt patches.
The patches would eventually be sewn together to promote peace in 2014.
D’Lawrence Scott’s message read “Please Everyone Accept Citizens Equally.” Each word was written vertically to spell “PEACE” across the top of his quilt patch.
The Crouse fifth-grader was among dozens who painted quilt patches as part of the 18th annual First Night Akron, a New Year’s celebration that attracted thousands of residents on a blistering cold night.
“If we’re going to see peace in our community, it really has to start at the grass roots,” said Linda Teodosio, a judge in Summit County Juvenile Court.
Teodosio, joined by her husband, Tom, and other Akron dignitaries, posed for photos as each child taped his or her quilt patch to a board.
Outside, sightseers toured the city in horse-drawn sleighs, braving temperatures that dipped into the teens well before the sun set on the last night of 2013.
Thrill-seekers huddled together in the streets beneath two fireworks shows, or in one of a dozen buildings offering fun and food.
Outdoor stages, restaurants and pubs hosted an eclectic range of performers, including the colorful Beatles tribute band Hard Day’s Night, Riverdance extraordinaires from the O’Hare School of Irish Dance, the swinging sounds of Big Band Akron and even some contemporary artists such as Akron singer-songwriter Brian Lasik, touring after the release of his third album, and jazz vocalist Clay East, a star of NBC’s talent show The Voice.
Magician Ray Raymond bedazzled crowds gathering at the John S. Knight Center while hypnotist Michael Oddo roamed around tantalizing willing participants.
Hands-on art and craft shows abounded for children of all ages.
Walking south on Main Street, Alexander Murph checked a listing of the 100 activities and performances. His son, Tyler, kept pace.
The two ventured downtown from their home in Norton on the advice of friends.
The boy wanted nothing more than sweets, he told his father.
“What about fireworks?” Murph asked.
“Oh, yeah. Those, too,” said the 6-year-old, bundled up in a winter coat, gloves and a hat.
“Maybe a concert at the Civic Theatre?” Murph asked his son. “We’ve got lots of things to do tonight.”
Doug Livingston can be reached at 330-996-3792 or firstname.lastname@example.org.