Unique air aquarium a new attraction for 17th annual First Night Akron

New Year's party may draw 17,000 people

AKRON, Ohio - Something very fishy will be happening during the 17th annual celebration of First Night Akron on Dec. 31.

A huge "air aquarium" will fill one of the halls in the upper level of the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron.

Volunteers are using a helium tank to fill up 50 balloon sea creatures, including sharks, clown fish and sea bass. Community groups will move the fish around the room using remote controls.

"We'll have music playing- aquatic themed. We've got contact jugglers that are going to be dressed as sea nymphs, so you'll get the experience that you're under water," said Sharon Gillberg, communications director for Downtown Akron Partnership.

In addition, a gigantic whale, measuring 110 feet long, will be blown up and on display. Children will be allowed to walk inside.

Michele McNeal, a volunteer from Akron, filled many of the balloons on Friday and is anxious to bring her daughter to the experience.

"This is my first helium experience. I've never done this before. It's pretty cool," McNeal said.

First Night Akron is a family-friendly, alcohol-free celebration of the arts in downtown Akron. Organizers are expecting between 17,000 and 18,000 people this year.

This year, there are nine different indoor venues with a variety of activities and entertainment, including music, theater, arts and crafts and face painting.

The event runs from 6 p.m. to midnight and includes two fireworks shows, one at 9 p.m. for the youngsters and the grand finale at the stroke of midnight.

First Night buttons are $10, but kids under the age of 10 are free. The buttons can purchased at various locations, including Acme Fresh Market stores, participating First Merit Bank branches, the downtown Akron-Summit County Public Library and the Akron Civic Theater.

Parking is free at numerous downtown lots and Metro buses will transport those with buttons around the loop of the First Night venues.

To learn more: http://firstnightakron.org

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