First Night Oil City: Celebrating 20 Years Tonight

| December 31, 2017

OIL CITY, Pa. – The 20th anniversary of Oil City’s First Night begins at 5:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

(2016 Photo above by Greg Knox – Bright Ideas Learning Center and Photography.)

Having begun on December 31, 1997, this action-packed family-oriented, non-alcoholic celebration will showcase numerous popular performing groups from among the 224 uniquely different groups that have performed at least once in prior years.

Entertainers who will join us this year include: RPR Band (former members of Tanglefoot, winners of the Best Vocal Group at the 2007 Canadian Folk Music Awards); Cahal Dunne (Ireland’s piano man); Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin impersonators Charlie Stayduhar and Bob Morelli; Mitch Littler (stellar blues via vocals and playing multiple instruments); The Butler Clowns (humor, magic, skits, balloons, and music); Captain Magic (magician Tom Mclaren); Carol Weakland (actress, author and story-teller who brings literary classics to life); Neil Jacobs (masterful 12-string guitarist — Gypsy, World, Jazz, Balkan Folk, Classical and Modern Fingerstyle) and, Bill Sandusky (Erie Ice Works ice sculpture).

Performers joining the event for the first time this year include: Echo Valley Bluegrass Band, a very popular Western Pennsylvania family band comprised of seven siblings; Porcelain Bus Drivers (dance band that plays everything, from rock to country, rock, soul, rap, modern, 60’s through today); the Porter/Huber Jazz Quartet featuring area instrumental jazz musicians Nelson Porter, Bill Huber, Jr., Preston Huber and Patrick Huber; Asleigh Bennett (vocals, keyboard and ukulele – Indie, folk and a hint of classical music): and, Gary Auerbach (“The Frisbee Guy” … World Freestyle Frisbee Champion in 1995).

(2016 Photo above by Greg Knox – Bright Ideas Learning Center and Photography.)

Other 20th Anniversary First Night events will again include two fireworks displays (a large display at 7:00 p.m. and send-off burst at Midnight); a Cool Night Light People’s Procession, hat-making, craft-making; outdoor bonfires; a Transit Artists Drum Circle at 9:00 p.m.; and, an opportunity to have someone take your photo beside a beautiful Ice Throne sculpture located at Towne Square.

Hat-making will take place in the ground floor hallway area of the National Transit Building ground floor hallway from 5:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. Craft-making will take place in classrooms at the Trinity UM Church from 5:30 p.m. until 8:00 p.m., with church volunteers offering supplies, so people can make their own crafts. Special entertainment for children and their families include the Butler Clowns, featuring Dennis and Cheryl Butler, members of the Masonic Rite Family Clowns, who will share their humor, magic, skits, balloons and music to entertain the young at heart while performing in classrooms at the Trinity UM Church; and, Carol Weakland will be portraying Professor McGonigail from Harry Potter.

The Cool Light People Procession will commence at the National Transit Building Gate (North Side) at 6:45 p.m. and provide participants an opportunity to use noisemakers, wear creative hats, or wave “First Lights” or their very own LED creation as they dance, shout, and make a festive journey down Seneca Street and all the way into Justus Park.

An artistically created admittance button must be purchased and worn by attendees prior to entering any performance venue. Detailed program booklets are available at the sites where buttons are sold and they identify performance times and venues as well as First Night tips and pertinent helpful information.

The buttons must be shown to volunteers who will be at entrances and wearing both “blinky” buttons and volunteer ribbons. Regular buttons will cost $10.00 each and jazzed up “blinky” buttons will sell for $15.00 each. If purchased prior to Christmas, regular buttons will be sold at a reduced price of $8.00 each. Children of ages five and under, accompanied by an adult, will be admitted at no charge. On New Year’s Eve, buttons will only be available, after 5:00 p.m., at Spilling the Beans, Karma Coffee, and the National Transit Building.

Two vans will be available, from 5:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., for transporting First Night revelers about town throughout the evening and until just beyond midnight. The buses will regularly stop on the North Side of town at the Visitor’s Center near McDonald’s and on Center Street adjacent to the National Transit Building. South Side stops will be made on E. First Street in front of both the Grace and Calvary United Methodist Churches.

First Night Committee members include: George Cooley, Jeff Corbett, Dan Feroz, Charlotte LaVerde, Martha LaVerde-Heise, Lynn Pacior-Malys, Bill and Robin Moon, Ron Shoup, and Susan Williams.

Please help celebrate First Night Oil City’s 20th anniversary and a fabulous evening of family fun, fireworks, fanfare, children’s events, and stellar entertainment brought your way by the Oil City Arts Council and many wonderful sponsors.

For additional First Night information, please contact Susan Williams at or follow First Night Oil City on Facebook.

Also, a new Snapchat & Twitter experience will be a part of the fun this year.

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