Provo First Night

I thought I had spent my last New Year’s Eve in Provo, Utah, but somehow I was there again this year. And by “somehow” I mean “they paid me.”

Provo is one of many cities to hold a big celebration on New Year’s Eve called First Night. (Why “First Night” when it’s actually the last night of the year? Shouldn’t it be called “First Morning”?) The intersection of Center Street and University Avenue — the exact center of town — is closed off, and so are the streets one block in each direction. A fair-like atmosphere is created, with booths, food, games, and live entertainment. The businesses in that sector offer discounts to First Night revelers.

I was honored to be invited as one of five performers on the mainstage. Before and after me were your customary rock, pop and swing bands — and then there was me, playing the piano and singing funny songs.

The weather was cold and rainy, as you’d expect it to be on New Year’s Eve in Utah, but still there were many families out and about. I was given a very warm reception by the large-ish group of First Nighters who stood in front of the stage to watch me, and it was all around an enjoyable (not to mention lucrative) experience.

Only one thing marred the event for me. Every day that week, Provo’s newspaper, The Daily Herald — where I was a writer from 1996-2003 — ran a full-page ad listing the performers scheduled for First Night. Here is the ad:

You will notice, as I did, that my name is misspelled. In big letters. In a full-page ad. That ran every day for a week. In a newspaper I worked at for seven years.

Here’s to you, Daily Herald! Keep stupiding your way to the top!