Have you ever heard of First Night? We hadn’t either, but it was a great first night of dating. The closest First Night to us was Hartford, CT. We ordered our wrist bands last week, but you can also buy them at the event. We found parking (which caused an interesting end to our evening, more on that later) then strolled through downtown Hartford toward the event. Along the way, we passed by an art gallery displaying the “Myths and Idols” collection by Travis Durden, which features Star Wars characters edited in to classic statues. What a great, geeky way to start the evening. A couple blocks later, we arrived in Bushnell Park.
The first thing we saw was the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch.
Unfortunately, we got there right before they were closing the arch for the evening to prepare for the fireworks. One hundred and sixteen feet of hurried stair climbing later, we stood on the arch and took in the view. Five minutes later, after catching our breath for far too little time, back down the tower we went.
Next, we walked around the park looking at the lights and decorations. We found a park bench near the pond and spent a few minutes enjoying the statue in the middle.
As we continued strolling through the lit-up park, we passed the carousel. The line to ride was wrapped all around the inside of the building and back out again, so we decided not to ride (yet). Continuing on, we found the Pump House. Inside, they had a roaring fire in the fire place that filled the whole room with warmth and the aroma of crackling logs. In front of the fire place, a couple musicians were playing a variety of Irish and folk songs on acoustic instruments. We got some hot chocolate and spent a while listening and enjoying the ambiance.
Beside the Pump House was a temporary ice skating rink. Frosty the Snowman and Sonar, the mascot for the Hartford Wolf Pack, were skating around with all of the families. Our legs still felt like Jello from climbing the Arch, so we decided to just watch instead of skating. A few minutes later, we heard an announcement that the fireworks were starting soon, so we made our way back over to the Arch to watch the first fireworks display of the evening.
The firework display was fantastic. As the different fireworks went off, we talked about the characteristics of each that we liked. At the end, we decided that ones we both like best are the fireworks that leave sparkling trails in the sky like streamers. On the firework test of compatibility, that’s a 100%.
After the fireworks, we saw the line for the carousel was much shorter, so we got in line. It should be noted that “much shorter” is extremely relative. We spent the next hour chatting about the fireworks and the park and cruising, because the horses reminded us of a cruise we took a few months ago that featured carousel horses as decorations. We finally got to ride the horses and it was totally worth the wait. Totally. We enjoyed a short ride, where I pretended to take off my cowboy hat and quietly yelled “Hi-Yo, Silver!” as the carousel made its way around.
We walked around the park a little more, then because it was getting too cold, we decided to head home. We walked back to the exit of the parking garage that we came out of when parked, but it was locked. This set off the great “How do we get to our car?” game of 2015. We first tried all the doors around us, then went around the block to the side of the building, where we tried more doors there. We walked further down the block and found an entrance toward an underground lot, so we walked in thinking that we could get to the car from there. Guess what all the doors were. Did you guess locked? You’re right. Looking around a bit more, we discovered that this was a service entrance for the building, not the parking garage. So, we walked back out and around to the next side of the building. There were a couple more doors, but they didn’t look like they lead to where we wanted to be, so we didn’t even try them. Finally, we rounded the block again and found the entrance to the parking garage we had been looking for. We got to the car, breathed a sigh of relief that we weren’t lost/stranded in downtown Hartford (again… which is a story for another time), then headed home.
We spent the rest of the evening watching a Futurama marathon of all the episodes where Fry gets frozen on New Year’s Eve (Pilot episode, Season 5 episode 8, and Bender’s Big Score), then watched the ball drop.
It was a fantastic date night and a great way to kick off the year. Our New Year’s resolution is to do a new date night every night this year.
What’s your resolution? Have you ever gone to a First Night? Let us know in the comments!
First Night Hartford, CT
Myths and Idols article in the Hartford Courant