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Westport Celebration Rings in 2011

Max and Chris Ford, Zack Todd and Jack Dressner all had one thing in common at the Westport/Weston First Night celebration Friday night: They were mesmerized by the train show at the Westport Public Library.

Presented by Dennis the Train Man, the exhibit attracted train lovers of all ages. And though it's been a feature at the past five or six First Night parties, it was a first for Max, 3, and his dad, Chris.

"We've never been to First Night, and so far it's great," said Chris Ford of Norwalk. "Max has been talking about seeing the trains and getting his face painted all day."

Chris said he learned about First Night from eating at Bobby Q's on New Year's Eve.

"We always saw some kids with their faces painted at Bobby Q's," he said. "And once the kids saw what the other kids had, they wanted it, too. But we didn't feel the kids were old enough to come until this year."

Across town, scores of moms, dads and kids poured into the Westport/Weston YMCA, where an array of activities waited. Greeting visitors were the sounds of local band Squeaky Clean. Madeleine Spera and her dad, Pete, danced as the band belted out its rendition of a Cyndi Lauper hit.

"We get out of the house, get the kids out of the house and enjoy some time out in the community," Pete said.

Upstairs waited Nappy's Puppets with Jim Napolitano. Ari Libson, 2, and his grandmother, Alice, laughed as Napolitano performed his shadow puppet routine.

"We love First Night," Alice said. "There's so many great performers." Alice and Ari planned to stay until 9:30 so they could see their friend Fran Southworth perform at the Seabury Center.

In the lower gym, kids enjoyed face-painting and crafts, and there was no shortage of smiling faces.

"It's part of the Westport community," Rick Perlen said as his daughter, Olivia, got her face painted. "Tonight is about family."

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