COLUMBIA - Final preparations are underway on Saturday for First Night Columbia festivities. The events will be hosted in locations throughout downtown. Director Jane Accurso said the sunshine is drawing in more participants.
"I think it should be really good because of the good weather. We had an approximate participation of about 8,000 last year so we hope to reach that and more," said Accurso.
She said sign-ups for this year's 5K Run/Walk have already surpassed previous years' participation records.
Accurso has been involved with First Night Columbia for over eight year and has served as the program's Director for three years. She said this year's theme is "Make Some Noise" with a sub-theme called "Local Explosion." Accurso said she's looking forward to showcasing local artists on this year's stages.
"All the stages this year are dedicated to our local community so you'll see a lot of nostalgia, familiar faces, current faces and new faces that you haven't seen. They're all from Missouri and the majority from the Columbia area," said Accurso.
Guilty Party is one of those local artists. The band will be one of four bands playing at First Night's teen venue in First Christian Church. Band member Isaac Baker said the band played at First Night two years ago.
"I'm a little bit nervous because we didn't get as much practice in as we like but I think, I got a feeling that we'll be good tonight," said Baker.
His fellow bandmate and lead singer, Ross Menefee, said he's hoping tonight's performance will get Guilty Party's name out in the community.
"We kind of lost our fan base a while ago. We had it built up and winter came and all of our gigs, we couldn't get anymore," said Menefee.
You'll need an admission button to check out Guilty Party and other bands performing at First Christian Church. Accurso said admission buttons can be purchased at a discount price of $8 until 4 p.m. Otherwise, the buttons are $10 at the door. Children under 7-years-old get in free.