Not exactly the first first First Night first impressions

…and probably not the last either.

After the debacle that accompanied Austin’s first attempts at a Mardi Gras parade a few years back, at first I wasn’t totally sold on this First Night idea, but other than being a little hard on my 40-something feet, it was a lot of fun, especially considering how many debut kinks they probably had to work out.

We took the Duval #7 bus both there and back, which turned out to be a fantastic idea because the busses were running right on schedule (just adjusted a block over from the usual Congress stops), and we heard horror stories from people who tried to drive in and park.

We wandered around in the afternoon, taking in the outdoor events and looking for food. Most of the festival food was clustered down around City Hall, so if you were farther up Congress when you got hungry you had to do a little more foraging. Note to organizers: me, I like a lot of food, myself, and I don’t like to walk a long way to get it. More food everywhere. “Gimme eat!”, as Major ______ de Coverley might say.

It was also a little confusing as to which streets were closed to vehicles and which weren’t, so after getting used to wandering around in the middle of the street for a while near City Hall, you’d find out the hard way that cars still wanted to use Congress. Note to organizers: just shut the whole thing down all day. Who wants to drive on New Year’s anyway?

But the events were great fun. The chalk art on the South First bridge was a blast, the Grand Procession was much better than we expected, and the crowds were nice and low key. Just enough people to be festive, but not so many as to make it stressful to have small children. And no drunks. No frat boys. No jello shot sluts. It was a really nice time.

My kids rode in the procession as part of The Pink, a pink snowball art car designed by the students at Red House Studios, most of whom have been on “The Pink” soccer team at Hancock Rec Center at some point. They passed out pink beads and Hostess Snowballs. I ate one. I won’t make that mistake again; some childhood memories are better off staying memories. Well, OK, maybe if you deep-fry it for me…

We headed home after the first fireworks show since the kids were worn out and everybody wanted a sit-down meal some place. If we do it again next year (which is likely), we’ll probably arrive later so that we have the energy to stay later. The after-dark festivities were sounding like a lot of fun as we headed back to the bus.

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