Young And Old Enjoy Hartford First Night, Early Fireworks
By STEVEN GOODE And DAVID OWENS
January 01, 2011
When First Night Hartford's family-friendly fireworks launched at 6 p.m., Billy Townsend was ready and liked what he saw.
The 7-year-old from West Hartford, watching the fireworks with his parents and younger sister, said he liked the booms. Five-year-old Rachel pronounced the fireworks "good."
Their mom, Jen Townsend, said she appreciated the 6 p.m. fireworks show. "It's fun for these guys to enjoy it," she said. "It's very accommodating to let them join in."
Devonte Howard, an 8-year-old from Hartford, said the fireworks that exploded into smiley faces were his favorites. His dad, Donovan Howard of Hartford, said his son will be long asleep at midnight, so the 6 p.m. launch was a great way to spend New Year's Eve.
The fireworks weren't the only draw to downtown Friday. The temporary skating rink at Bushnell Park had a line even before the day's festivities kicked off.
Throughout the early evening, a steady crowd wearing silly hats and blowing horns wended its way through Bushnell Park on a warmer-than-usual New Year's Eve.
During the afternoon, lines formed out the door of the carousel. Dozens more waited for horse-drawn carriage rides that circled the park, but one attraction that wasn't on the visitor's map was drawing almost as many curious children and adults.
"I got to pet the horses," said Christian Bakes, 6, of Newington. Christian, who was taking in First Night for the first time with his sister Christine, 10, mother Britt and family dog Boo, was referring to Hartford Mounted Police Patrol horses Cody and Cacique, who were stationed with their partners, Officer Debby Skates and Sgt. Heriberto Resto, near the center of the park.
Resto said the horses were very popular with the kids and added that the skating rink had resulted in a visible jump in attendance this year.
"I hope they keep it going," Resto said.
Taylor Lestina, of West Hartford, was making her first visit to First Night as well. This time last year, she was still in the hospital after having been born a few days earlier.
"We're going to make a fun tradition [of First Night] with the little one," said her father Lou.
For Brooke Damboise, 9, of Bolton, the best attraction of the day was a tour of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch.
"It was freaky going to the top of the stairs, but when we got there it was cool," said Brooke, who was headed to the Old State House with her parents and sister Rachel before returning to the park for the fireworks show at 6 p.m.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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