Dover offers activities all night long

As 2009 comes to a close, organizers are getting ready for the party of the year: First Night Dover. The 14th annual downtown party is full of kid favorites from the past like bubble wrap dance to avant-garde newcomers Ambush Theatre.

1 The basics
First Night Dover is an alcohol-free, family-friendly event at venues across downtown Dover. It starts at 3 p.m. with children’s activities, although some venues will open earlier, and continues through until approximately 12:30 a.m. The opening ceremonies are at 6 p.m. on Legislative Mall and include the first of two fireworks displays of the night. The second will be at midnight as the ball drops to the tune of “Auld Lang Syne” on Legislative Mall. Remember that this is a rain, snow or shine event, so bundle up and take an umbrella if things look dreary.

2 Music ...
Headlining the event is 26-year-old troubadour Huck, who will bring folk, rock and blues to the stage early in the evening and then again at 11:15 p.m. on Legislative Mall. Joining him there to finish out the night will be the Mark DeRose Band, whose focus is rock/pop in the style of James Taylor or Dave Matthews. Venues throughout downtown will feature a diverse line-up of musicians, including Donegal X-Press’s Irish-American roots rock, Dr. Billy Curtis’s rock piano tribute “An Evening with Billy & Elton,” Rhonda Hitchens’ country and gospel vocals, and the Dahlia Flute Duo and guest pianist Joshua Horch’s classical jazz. That handful of visiting musicians will be joined by more, including some regional favorites such as Mario Rocco and First State Strings ensembles.

3 Magic ...
Slight of hand, juggling and magic will come Dover’s way via the performances of Mr. Fishe, Master of Manipulative Mayhem, and Joe Holiday, magician/illusionist. Both incorporate more than just magic into their acts. Holiday mixes it with dance, comedy, music and illusions, while Mr. Fishe is more focused on juggling, tricks and skits.

4 And more
Some First Night performers and attractions just can’t be categorized. Take Ambush Theatre for example. The group that will be wandering downtown describes itself as part puppetry, part topiary and part clown engaging in “carefully choreographed bouts of chaos.” Hmmm ... interesting. Then there’s Mark Jaster, a Maryland Renaissance Festival standout who incorporates musical routines and physical comedy into his mute solo show. Add Chinese circus artist Yang Xiao Di and yo-yo World Record-holder Dick Stohr and there’s something along every point in the entertainment spectrum.

5 Where to get buttons
First Night buttons admit attendees to all events, although buttons aren’t necessary for outside events. Children 10 and younger are admitted free with a paying adult. Buttons are $15 and are available at Delaware Made General Store, PNC Bank, First State Heritage Park Welcome Center at the Delaware Public Archives, Halpern Eye Associates, Forney’s Too and Happy Harry’s in Dover. They also can be purchased at

Below is a schedule of events and attractions at First Night Dover. All shows are 30 minutes long unless otherwise noted. Attractions without times listed run throughout the day.

“Clean Energy, Clean Future ... 2010 New Year’s Resolution”
9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Near the Schwartz Center
Visit the display written and shared by Pace, in alliance with Standard Solar. The display represents a commitment to clean energy in the years ahead.

Shipbuilding in the First State
9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
Delaware Visitor Center and Galleries
The exhibit focuses on the industry of shipbuilding and the people who were involved. Discover how and why the shipbuilding industry began in Delaware, and its importance.

Arts ConnectEd
Biggs Museum of American Art
Arts ConnectEd features the artwork of students from schools including Holy Cross, William Henry Middle School, Campus Community and Ursuline Academy during four month-long installations. It also features Sewell’s Studio, an interactive creativity center providing young visitors the opportunity to create works of art similar to those on display. The exhibit runs through Feb. 21.

Celebration of Creativity
Biggs Museum of American Art
The Biggs Museum is showcasing work created through VSA Arts of Delaware, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities for people with disabilities to develop artistic skills and enhance confidence. Celebration of Creativity is on display through Jan. 3.

Ambush Theatre
Roaming downtown
Ambush Theater is a mobilized posse of shrubbery with a mind of its own. Part puppetry, part topiary, part clown, Ambush mixes the overlooked world of shrubbery with the suspense and drama of a low-budget thriller. Through carefully choreographed bouts of chaos, Ambush creates an amusingly unpredictable kinetic landscape.

Mr. Fishe, Master of Manipulative Mayhem
3 to 6 p.m.
Dover Public Library
Mr. Fishe’s barrel of tricks, magic, skits and other delights will be on hand for guests, who can watch and participate. Free juggling bracelets given to participants.

First State Strings ensembles
3 to 8 p.m.
Friends of Old Dover 
Musicians range in age from 7 to 19.

Dick Stohr, with Yo-Yos, Spin Tops & More
3, 4, 5 and 6:45 p.m.
People’s Church gym
That Yo-Yo Guy uses skill toys such as yo-yos, spin tops and diabolos. He has set six Yo-Yo World Records, and taught tens of thousands of elementary school students how to play with yo-yos.

Basket Making with the Delaware Basket Makers Association
3 to 6 p.m.
Presbyterian Church of Dover
Children will learn how to weave a basket. This popular activity is limited to children only. A list of future basket weaving classes will be available at this activity for any interested adults.

Corn Hole Game
3 to 11 p.m.
State Street near the Schwartz Center
Visit the oversized buttons of the past and play a few games of Corn Hole.

Lantern Project
3 to 6 p.m.
Dover Public Library
Decorate a luminary lantern with markers, stencils, curly ribbon and each person’s custom artwork. A glow stick lights it up.

Dover Art League
3 to 8 p.m.
The Dover Art League will help visitors remember the last day of the year with a digital photo and creative frame. Young and the young-at-heart can also come create some crazy hats to welcome in the coming year, or watch a potter and other artists at work.

Fortunes Told in Numbers
3 to 11 p.m.
In front of City Hall
St. Anne’s Episcopal School Project sponsors the attraction for people to find their futures in these numbers. Roll the giant dice and the number will tell people something about their future.

Free Party Favors
3 p.m. until gone
Downtown Dover Partnership, 101 W. Loockerman St.
The City of Dover’s Downtown Dover Partnership offers party hats to ring in the New Year.

Mother Goose of Read Aloud Delaware
3, 4, 5 p.m.
City Hall Council Chamber
Watch traditional nursery rhymes come to life with a visit from Mother Goose. Children ages 3 to 5 and their families are invited to this interactive performance.

Button Bean Bag Toss
3 to 11 p.m.
Throughout downtown
Toss a beanbag through one of the oversized First Night Dover buttons.

Candy Land Walk
3 to 11 p.m.
In front of Wesley Church Grace Fellowship Hall
St. Anne’s Episcopal School sponsors this attraction, where guests help create the Candy Land Walk. Color in a square and help re-create this favorite children’s board game, then, at dusk, stroll the colorful squares and check out the Candy Cane Forest and Gumdrop Mountain.

Face in the Painting
3 to 11 p.m.
Local artist Rebekah Rowe returns with this interactive event. Stand behind one of the faceless murals and add yourself to these whimsical scenes, then take your own pictures.

Amazing Face Painting by Jewellzee
3 to 8 p.m.
Delaware Public Archives
Watch Jewellzee transform little one’s faces into a work of art.

Foosball Table
3 to 11 p.m.
Throughout downtown
Challenge a friend to a game on the extra-large foosball table. The table was designed and built by carpenter Tom Gladu and hand painted by local artist Rebekah Rowe.

3 to 8 p.m.
People’s Church basement
Kent County 4-H Clubs sponsor a variety of crafts for all ages.

Magnetic Poetry Board
3 to 11 p.m.
Throughout downtown
St. Anne’s Episcopal School sponsor this attraction, a giant magnetic poetry board with hundreds of words waiting to create a special poem, message or thought for the New Year.

Bayhealth Teddy Bear Clinic
3 to 6 p.m.
Delaware Visitors Center and Galleries
This hands-on activity helps children become more familiar with the health care environment. Giveaways will be provided.

Wish Chairs
3 to 11 p.m.
Throughout downtown
Take a break from walking by sitting in the six giant painted chairs, decorated by Rebekah Rowe, and then make a wish for the New Year. Chairs are designed for new year dreams ranging from health, happiness or prosperity, to love and wisdom.
Lantern Tours
3 to 8 p.m.; tours are 30 minutes
21 The Green
For 300 years The Green has been the center of commerce, politics, and civic life. Take a lantern-lit walk around The Green with costumed historical interpreters to hear about the people and events that left their mark on Dover’s history.

Bubble Wrap Dance
3 p.m. to undetermined
State Street near the Schwartz Center for the Arts
Tap feet and move to the beat at the bubble wrap dance.

DASEF bring you Lunar Trek
3 to 6 p.m.
Schwartz Center for the Arts, Ballroom
In order to establish a permanent base on the moon, specialized equipment will be needed to explore the surface and help get around. A crucial item will be an exploration vehicle, and one such candidate is the Lunar Micro rover. First Night guests have been chosen as the lead people/team responsible for designing and constructing a prototype Lunar Micro rover.

Looking Through to the New Year with the Little School at Kids Cottage
3 to 6 p.m.
Schwartz Center, McNinch Hall
Experience all four seasons while peering through the giant stained glass windows made by the children of the Little School at Kids Cottage. Then make a stained glass window to take home.

Yang Xiao Di, Chinese circus artist
3 p.m.
Schwartz Center, ballroom
Hailing from Shanghai, China, Yang has been an acrobat since age 6, and has accomplished a number of national and international achievements.

Stephen and Other Dummies, comedy
4, 5, 6:30 and 7:15 p.m.
Wesley Church Grace Fellowship Hall
Stephen and Other Dummies stars the husband and wife team, Stephen and Stephanie Brubaker. They combine music, robotic mime, outrageous props, audience participation, impressions and vocal acrobatics in one fast-paced performance. Stephen has been on the bill with artists including Charlie Daniels, Bob Hope, Elton John, The Beach Boys, Crystal Gayle, Richard Jeni, Phyllis Diller and Waylon Jennings.

Carriage rides
4 to 8 p.m.
The Green
Horse drawn carriages rides around The Green are open to children and adults.

Mark Jaster, comedy theatre
4, 7:30, 9:15 and 11:15 p.m.
Schwartz Center for the Arts, main stage
A featured stage act at the Maryland Renaissance Festival for more than 20 years, Jaster’s mute solo shows feature physical comedy and eccentric musical routines.

Joe Holiday, magician/illusionist
5:15, 6:30, 8:30, 10:15 p.m.
Schwartz Center, main stage
International magician and illusionist Joe Holiday returns with feats of magic mixed with slight of hand, dance, comedy, contemporary music and illusions.

Opening ceremonies and fireworks
6 p.m.
Legislative Mall

The Dahlia Flute Duo with guest pianist Joshua Horch, classical jazz
6:30, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30 p.m.
Presbyterian Church Sanctuary
The trio will perform works by composers including Ian Clarke, Franz Doppler, Tchaikovsky and opera favorites.

Rhonda Hitchens, country/gospel
6:30, 7:30, 8:30, 9:30, 10:30 p.m.
Wesley Church Sanctuary
Recording artist Rhonda Hitchens has performed in front of audiences since the age of seven. Her love of gospel music has taken her to numerous stages.

Huck, folk, rock and blues
6:30, 7:30, 9, 10 p.m.
Schwartz Center for the Arts, McNinch Hall
Huck, the 26-year-old troubadour, has been touring consistently since 2002. Huck’s arrangements are confident, soulful and romantically sophisticated.

Mike Storck, comedy
6:45, 8, 9:30, 11 p.m.
Delaware Public Archives
Mike has been heard on XM Satellite radio, the nationally syndicated Bob and Tom show, was a finalist in HBO’s Lucky 21 and was the winner of the Carnival Comedy Challenge.

écarté dance theatre, modern and contemporary ballet
6:45, 7:30 p.m.
Dance Directions
Dover’s écarté dance theatre celebrates the movement of life with poetic dramatizations as well as visual and dance collaborations.

First State Harmonizers barbershop chorus
7, 8:30 p.m. (45-minute shows)
Dover Public Library

Matt Santry, music
7, 8, 9, 10, 11 p.m.
PNC Bank
From full-time social worker to full-time musician, Matt Santry has made the transition from playing music for autistic children to rocking audiences of loyal fans. Since 2006, Santry has performed more than 400 live shows in venues from Los Angeles to New York.

Dr. Billy Curtis presents “An Evening with Billy & Elton,” comedy, rock and pop
7:15, 8:45, 10:15, 11:15 p.m.
Presbyterian Church Basement
“An evening with Billy and Elton: A tribute to your favorite piano rockers” features the music of Billy Joel and Elton John.

Video Comedy Presentation! by Dave Olsher IVC (Internet Video Connoisseur)
7:30, 9, 10:30 p.m.
Schwartz Center, ballroom
Dave has collected the funniest, coolest, most watched, most viral, and the most talked about video clips in cyberspace, and audiences now get to see them on a big screen without having to watch the rest of the junk that gets sent around.

Donegal X-Press, Irish-American roots rock
7:45, 9, 10:15, 11 p.m.
DNREC Building
DXP blends a unique combination of traditional Irish music with American country and blues, folk and rock, rhythm and funk.

Gypsy Nomads, music
7:45, 8:45, 9:30, 10:15 p.m.
City Hall Council Chamber
New York duo The Gypsy Nomads channel the spirit of the gypsy sound, lacing it with a cabaret, Celtic and neo-medieval flavor rooted in punk, folk and the vineyards of southern France. The duo features bilingual French-born British chanteuse Samantha Stephenson on vocals, percussion and drums and songwriter and veteran of the punch scene Scott Helland on guitar, drums and guitar loops.

Mark DeRose Band, rock/pop
7:45, 8:45, 9:30 p.m.
People’s Church of Dover, gym
Influenced by musical greats like James Taylor, Bruce Hornsby and Dave Mathews, Mark DeRose brings a distinctive sound that has been challenging listeners and entertaining high energy crowds for nearly a decade.

Mario Rocco, variety show
8:15, 9, 9:45, 10:30, 11:15 p.m.
Wesley Church Grace Fellowship Hall
Mario Rocco, vocalist and entertainer, features music from Sinatra to oldies to Motown and even a little country.

Yang Xiao Di, Chinese circus artist
8:15, 9:45, 11:15 p.m.
Schwartz Center, main stage
Hailing from Shanghai, China, Yang has been an acrobat since age 6, and has accomplished a number of national and international achievements.

The Max Vanderbeek Jazz Group
8:30, 9:30, 10:15, 11 p.m.
People’s Church of Dover basement
The Max Vanderbeek Jazz Group plays classic, acoustic, jazz standards known and adored by jazz lovers around the world. Max Vanderbeek plays drums or vibes depending on the event. He has played for President Bill Clinton, and has studied drums with Keith Copland, Kenwood Dennard and others. He will be joined by some of the top jazz players in the Baltimore/Washington area.

Mark DeRose Band, rock/pop
11:15 p.m. (45-minute show)
Legislative Hall, main stage
Influenced by musical greats like James Taylor, Bruce Hornsby and Dave Mathews, Mark DeRose brings a distinctive sound that has been challenging listeners and entertaining high energy crowds for nearly a decade.

Huck, folk, rock and blues
11:15 p.m.
Legislative Mall, main stage
Huck, the 26-year-old troubadour, has been touring consistently since 2002. Huck’s arrangements are confident, soulful and romantically sophisticated.

Ball drop
Legislative Mall
Fireworks and a lighted ball drop will ring in the new year