First Night Akron 2008, and The Chapel in the Moonlight

This article was posted on, about First Night Akron 2008.  Our particular event, The Chapel in the Moonlight, was featured as well.  Enjoy!

First Night welcomes New Year

Area residents turn out for fun, music in Akron

By Jewell Cardwell
Beacon Journal staff writer

Karen Brugmann and her sister, Mary Dodson, took in Melissa Daubert’s kinetic, interactive art experience called Baby New Year Jam at the Akron Art Museum.

The Akron women were among hundreds of folks caught up in the energy and excitement as they threaded their way through a plethora of entertaining venues in downtown Akron on Monday as part of First Night, the city’s alcohol-free, family friendly New Year’s Eve celebration.

The fuzzy-critter band called Baby New Year Jam challenged young and old alike to create music and motion through the art of puppetry.

Five-year-old Sarah Sterns and her 16-month-old brother, Noah Finn, attended with their parents, Nicole and Anthony Sterns of Akron. Sarah and Noah enjoyed the Baby New Year Jam, especially the chimes the puppets played.

They might have been practicing to be critics, perhaps, for when their father starts his own children’s band, which is poised to launch soon.

The weather was cold but cooperated with partygoers who had an easy time getting around to a variety of event sites.

They ran the gamut from storytelling to poetry, to a host of bands from different genres,
to couples getting married and others renewing their vows, to the University of Akron’s Steel Drum Band, to religious services at various houses of worship. After the final countdown to 2008, there was a fireworks finale.

Earlier in the evening, 17-year-old Megan Archey, representing Buckeye High School near Medina, took the crowd at InfoCision’s First Night Idol competition all the way country with her rendition of Before He Cheats.

Angel Garnett,a sophomore at Akron’s St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, changed the tempo with the Jennifer Hudson inspired I Love You I Do.

And Buckeye sophomore Jessica Schmidt brought it back to country once more with Cry by Mandy Moore.

The trio were among nine high school contestants — all females — who faced the music and a three-judge panel at the John S. Knight Center.

Not far away, Beverly Frye and Al Meade were being married by Akron Municipal Court Judge Kathryn Michael at the Chapel in the Moonlight at Main Place.

Dressed in a royal blue dress with silver accessories, Frye was matter of fact about the New Year’s Eve ceremony.

”We’ve been together a long time,” she said. ”We just thought it would be a special way to bring in the New Year as husband and wife.”

Kimberly Lehman, who was wedding coordinator for the event, said a couple from Michigan, Leroy K. Sallad Jr. and Lori McEwen, planned to say their ”I do’s” like her father and stepmother did this time last year at the same place and before the same pastor.

A bittersweet ceremony later in the evening also featured a soldier about to be shipped off to Iraq exchanging vows with his beloved.

A few blocks away, ”Mee Maw” Sandra Hardesty of Canton was busy squiring her granddaughters Jazmin and Kailee Labus, 7 and 4 respectively, around Lock 3.

The sisters seemed to have a grand time watching the ice skating and having Jack (alias Carly Fetterolf of Akron), the official First Night jester, working her magic as she produced one balloon animal after another.

Among those admiring her handiwork was Jhanavi Thakkar, the 5-year-old daughter of Amit and Rekha Thakkar of Cuyahoga Falls. She treasured the white balloon puppy made for her.

While the city won’t see the likes of a party of this magnitude for a whole year; it’s one that will play on in the heads and hearts of all who dared to see Akron in a different light.

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or


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