December 30, 2012
Major preparations are underway Sunday night for the 31st annual First Night Virginia event at the Downtown Mall. One man holds the event very close to his heart and shares his story.
Carroll Trainum, a Charlottesville resident, has attended every single First Night Virginia event since the original. And he has the souvenir buttons to prove it.
"I'm running out of room here, I've got 31 buttons on here!" Carroll said, showing off a sweatshirt with every button on it.
But besides being involved year after year as a volunteer, one particular memory stands out.
"About 12 years ago I met a woman I met at a dinner party and at the end we were talking and I asked, 'Would you like to volunteer with me at first night?'"
Well, the woman said yes but neither one of them knew what that one volunteer "date" would turn into.
"The next year we did it again but this time, after the fireworks, I proposed. So not only do I have a bunch of volunteer experience but I got a wife out of the deal," he said.
Volunteers and First Night fans like Trainum say they go year after year because of the family, non-alcoholic environment. Organizers say the secret to its success? The community.
"I mean we have a wide variety of local acts. We do bring in some acts from outside the area but we're just very fortunate to have a diverse community that can provide an opportunity to celebrate the community arts," said Drake Van de Castle, president of First Night Virginia.
First Night is teaming up with All Stage and Sound, a company who has done events at the White House. They'll be setting up from 3 p.m. Sunday to 4 a.m. Monday morning until everything is ready to go inside the Main Street Arena and on the Downtown Mall.
Tickets can still be bought online until midnight Sunday.