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Disco ball interrupts holiday bash; no one was hurt

Thousands of revelers packed Romare Bearden Park as Charlotte celebrated the new year with alcohol-free festivities for children and adults alike.

The only major uptown incident happened in Time Warner Cable Arena, where a disco ball dropped through the stage between acts.

“The best thing is no one was hurt,” said Glenn Grabski, director of arena booking. “This is great news.”

The ball dropped between performances by Shovel & Rope and the main act, the Avett Brothers.

“The show went on at 10:01 p.m.,” Grabski said of the Avett Brothers, adding that he didn’t immediately know what caused the ball to drop.

Arena officials said in a statement late Tuesday that the ball was from the show’s production.

An estimated 12,500 children and adults attended both First Night Kids and First Night Charlotte at Romare Bearden Park, said Moira Quinn, chief operating officer at Charlotte Center City Partners.

Police reported that five adults were arrested in the center city area from 6 p.m. Tuesday to 2 a.m. Wednesday. Four were charged with intoxication and disruptive behavior, and one was charged with trespassing.

Three juveniles also were arrested -- two for curfew violations and one for disorderly conduct and assault on an officer. The officer wasn’t seriously injured, police said.

Medic responded to six calls in the First Night event area on Tuesday, with four people being transported to area hospitals. One patient was transported with injuries described as potentially life threatening; three patients had non-life threatening injuries.

Early Wednesday, Medic responded to seven more calls in the First Night event area, with six people transported to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The nature of the injuries wasn’t available Wednesday morning.

The LYNX Blue Line, meanwhile, had 19,734 riders, up 26 percent over a regular Tuesday night.

In a report Wednesday, city officials deemed First Night a success and said the move to Romare Bearden Park had gone smoothly according to Charlotte Center City partners.

Thousands of adults milled about late Tuesday, snapping photos in front of the park’s colorful waterfall and sporting New Year’s gear such as the $10 pair of 2014 flashing eye glasses on Corinthian Phillips, 29, of Charlotte. “They make me glow!” she said.

Roderick and Shanelle Hunter of Charlotte brought their three children aged 8 to 12.

“ I like the music,” said daughter Dynesty Chambers, 12. “They have a lot of events going on.”

A separate New Year’s countdown for children took place just before 6 p.m. at the park.

For Joe and Candice Fletcher, celebrating the children’s countdown early was the perfect way to usher in 2014.

It got the family out of uptown before the adult parties began for First Night Charlotte, Candice Fletcher said. And it left plenty of time for the family to gather near the fire pit outside their home in Kannapolis for the traditional burning of their Christmas tree.

Plus, it was all free, which got a big thumbs- up from the Fletchers and the hundreds of other parents in uptown Tuesday afternoon.

Shane and Noël Tenny of Charlotte had last been to a New Year’s Eve celebration in uptown in 1999, to usher in 2000.

They decided their four children, aged 5 to 9, were now old enough to enjoy the celebration. “And we saw it was free,” Shane Tenny said.

In past years, visitors to First Night Charlotte had to buy wristbands, then go to different uptown venues to watch comedians, singers, dancers, circus performers and others.

This year, everything was centered at Romare Bearden Park.

Like the Tennys, Tom Russell of Fort Mill, S.C., preferred getting out of the house with his children on New Year’s Eve.

“I wanted to get out and be part of something cool,” Russell said after dancing to music at the park with daughters Emma, 4, and Abby, 2.

Elle Bezanson, 5, was so excited about the celebration that she blew on her New Year’s trumpet the entire 15-minute walk with her parents from their home in Wesley Heights.

“It’s great for the kids,” mom Amy Bezanson said. She and her husband, John, also brought son, Tucker, 1 1/2.

“We can walk here, and the time is good for the kids,” she said. “And we can get them home for bedtime.”

By 6 p.m., Romare Bearden Park was suddenly empty, but ready within hours to usher in a new set of revelers.

Marusak: 704-358-5067; Twitter: @jmarusak
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