NEW YEAR'S — Pyrotechnics, anchor to light up First Night in Port Townsend

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT TOWNSEND — The anchor will rise, electroluminescent, into the night sky.

Then come the fireworks — comets and more — in a two-minute volley, all to celebrate the nearness of the new year.

This is the sixth annual First Night party put on by local artists, shopkeepers and the Jefferson County Historical Society. Activities will run from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Monday in and around historic City Hall at 540 Water St., and people of all ages are invited to join in.

Admission to the whole package of First Night frolic is a suggested donation of $5 per person or $10 per family.

Passes are available in advance at the Jefferson County Museum of Art and History, 540 Water St., and Monday evening at both the City Hall lobby adjacent to the museum and the Cotton Building at 607 Water St.

The finale, as is the tradition, is the lifting of local artist Thaddeus Jurczynski's lighted anchor sculpture high over Memorial Field.

The 6-foot anchor made of bamboo and reeds is wrapped in EL, short for electroluminescent, wire.

Which means it glows — and this year the radiance is more reliable than ever.

Last summer, Jurczynski took the anchor to Mike Begley, a Burning Man festival veteran who owns the Seattle Lumin company, for some doctoring.

Remarking that the light system was decidedly “old school,” Begley proceeded to help Jurczynski revamp it.

Jurczynski is preparing a special screen to conceal the anchor. That way, when the time comes to raise it, its appearance will be a dramatic one.

As soon as the anchor ascends, Dr. David Chuljian, a Port Townsend dentist who is also a licensed pyrotechnician, will shoot off the 25 comets, 60 shells and 50 “cakes” of fireworks.

“This year is definitely going to be bigger” than past years, Chuljian promised. “We just have a little more of everything.”

That's unless the breeze kicks up, of course. High winds will cancel all but the comets, for an abbreviated show.

Jurczynski, for his part, is also presenter of another First Night highlight: the Puppet Theatrical at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall's Courtroom Gallery.

He didn't disclose what this year's show is about, though he hinted that it could involve shadow and blacklight puppets like in the past.

Then again, it could be something entirely different.

Jurczynski, who has lived in the Chimacum area for 25 years (his work can be seen at still delights in the unfolding of First Night.

Years ago, “I wasn't sure I was getting into,” he said.

Now, “I just feel so honored to be part of the celebration.”

To learn more about First Night, phone the Jefferson County Historical Society office at 360-385-1003 or visit


Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at

Last modified: December 27. 2012 10:57PM
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