On the last night of 2013, Main Street in Warrenton opened up to hundreds of bundled up celebrants. Bluemont put on its 19th annual First Night event, featuring more than 50 performances, squeezed into a window of just five hours.
The chilly night air didn't deter young or old as party-goers strolled from one building to another, visiting the First Baptist Church to see dancing and a live jazz band, then across to Warrenton Presbyterian Church for magic tricks and wildlife, and plenty of buildings in between which offered a variety of entertainment.
Even the solemn courthouse was part of the fun. Wearing multiple instruments, and a vest adorned with snowmen, Peter McCory, The One Man Band, gave the old courtroom a sense of uncommon excitement.
All four walls of the courtroom are lined with paintings of austere judges, scowling down at the wooden benches.
"See all those faces on the walls? They were smiling for a minute!" McCory joked after spurring his audience to sing "If you're happy and you know it clap your feet."
Another kid-pleaser was magician Michael Chamberlin, who packed out the Presbyterian church. The smallest kids gathered on the floor in front of the stage and watched with awe and amazement as they witnessed feats like the magic rings and levitation.
A lot was going on behind the scenes to make this event a success. A number of volunteers set up, broke down, sold admission in the form of buttons and organized the groups.
"Just don't go out there cold," said ballet teacher Claire Rosenberger, giving the advanced dancers permission to do their own warm-up. First Night attendees were still at home while the group at Excell Dance excitedly did plies, tendus, and grand battements in preparation for their performance.
"It's not about perfect technique. It's about showing the audience that you love what you're doing," said Rosenberger just minutes before the dancers went on stage to perform lyrical, ballet, hip hop and musical numbers.
Later that night, the St. Thom Swing Cats had everyone dancing. The big band music made swing dancing contagious and husbands led wives, dads led daughters, and friends coaxed friends onto the dance floor to step in time to the music and laugh away the last minutes until the big countdown.
Quarter till, everyone gathered at the courthouse stairs for the Grand Illumination. Hugs and kisses were generously doled out, and "Happy New Year!" rang out merrily.
As the excitement dwindled, kids were hoisted up onto hips, and everyone parted ways. The courthouse remained, just as serious as ever, counting down the days until next year when Peter McCory returns to bring it another dose of cheer.
Photo By Alisa Booze Troetschel/ONE BOAT MEDIA
Jedi Dibble, 5, of Warrenton, watches Oliver, a greenwing macaw from the South American rainforest, and part of Wildlife Ambassadors.