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Beginnings of Tradition

City of Fairfax offers third annual New Year's Eve celebration.

When the clock strikes midnight in downtown Fairfax this New Year's Eve, a shower of confetti will fall down on the streets of Fairfax as part of the city's third First Fairfax celebration.

"I wouldn't miss it," said Mayor Robert Lederer.

The celebration is not yet an annual event, but some city officials think it's becoming a undeniable tradition in the city. The city hosted it in 2004 as one of the city's many bicentennial celebrations. Lederer said the city wanted to reach out to the families that live in the city by providing a safe environment with activities for everyone.

"It was such a successful tradition; it's one that just continued," said Lederer.

The free event kicks off Sunday, Dec. 31, at 6 p.m. The streets throughout Old Town are blocked off and transformed into a winter wonderland. The city puts in an ice rink and offers free skate rentals for everyone, said Leslie Herman, special events coordinator for the city. Some of the more popular attractions are the horse and carriage rides, comedy clubs and live musical entertainment set up on the streets.

"We've got all kinds of entertainment going on throughout the evening," said Herman.

New Year's Eve is commonly a night for adults. People are out late, and the champagne is flowing. In Fairfax, officials wanted to provide a safe place for people of all ages to come and celebrate together, said Herman. Jo Ormesher, the city's marketing manager and arts coordinator, said First Fairfax has something for every member of the family.

"Across the board, it's fun for everyone," said Ormesher.

CITY COUNCILMEMBER SCOTT Silverthorne said the city should consider making the event an annual tradition at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting. Council has appropriated funds for the event since its inaugural year, but nothing is in place that says that the City Council must approve it.

"This event has really caught on," said Silverthorne. "I think it's probably better than some of the other events that we have very proudly done in our community for years."

As for this year's entertainment, Herman said it's top-notch. Smooth jazz will fill Old Town Hall. A variety of bands are scheduled to play on the show-mobile on University Drive. A new addition to this year's festivities are the decorative lights on the buildings throughout town, she said. And the bonfire, one of the big hits at the last two First Fairfax celebrations, is also returning.

"It's going to be a great event," said Michael McCarty, the city's parks and recreation director.

At midnight, the celebration comes to and end with a confetti show. A laser light show and fireworks have brought in the New Year at past celebrations, but Herman said the confetti show is going to be just as exciting. Since the confetti is biodegradable — disintegrates with water — no mess will remain to clean up after the party is over, she said.

"It's very family-oriented," said Silverthorne. "It keeps the families together on New Year's Eve in a safe environment, which I think is very important."