CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Balmy weather helped Charleston's annual New Year's Eve celebration live up to its name this year.And while no one counts heads at the 14 GoodNight venues, attendance was as good as if not better than a year ago, said Mary Alice Robertson, the event's new chairwoman."The Baptist Temple, they have two locations -- the sanctuary and the fellowship hall," Robertson said Tuesday. "In talking to several people who were there, they had a packed house for all their performances."Capitol Theater had really big crowds. The Civic Center Little Theater, I imagine they had good crowds. They had Sweet Lippz -- they do backup for Eugene Landau Murphy."Up at Trinity [Lutheran Church], they had Joe Romagnoli and Ryan Hardiman and Marc Scarpelli. I was told that place was packed -- standing room only. For womanSong, when they did the introduction they said they had the biggest crowd ever."Each GoodNight venue hosts four performances, starting on the hour from 6 to 9 p.m. Performances last 40 to 45 minutes, allowing people time to ride the trolley or otherwise move to a different location for the next show."My daughter and I got to see eight different groups," Robertson said. "We organized it in advance. We'd stay 20 minutes [and] take eight minutes to get to the next venue."You have to estimate [crowds], because people are coming and going all the time during the performance. At First Presby, for Inspiration, I estimated 100 people, and for later performers, over 100. I was so grateful for the weather."
Not that everything was smooth sailing in the months before the event."There was the week when three of the regulars canceled," she said. "They all had good reasons, and I understood."That just made room for more new acts. Robertson checked the list of prospects she inherited from previous chairmen, and called others."I would always get, 'I had always wanted to do it, but no one ever asked me.' We had 10 new groups this year. That was exciting."A few others returned after a year or more off. "The River City Youth Ballet took over the 9 o'clock at the Civic Center Little Theater, which worked perfectly because they needed a stage."Robertson vowed to return for a second year running the show. "Joe Wollenberger, our [Community Music Association] president, left me a message Sunday night. He said it was a very successful evening."From what people said to me this was a really great year, probably because the weather was so good. I'm glad it wasn't like today," she said Tuesday. "We'd have a whole different story."
Reach Jim Balow at email@example.com or 304-348-5102.