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First Night Raleigh 2011

Hargett Street looking west on New Year's Eve 2011

The City of Oaks adopted a French theme for the annual First Night Raleigh fest. Thanks to the universe for delivering pieces of Paris in a quaint southern style to my home!

La Grande Roue de Raleigh

La Grande Roue de Raleigh crowned the center of Fayetteville Street.

Raleigh Foundation Bar

Represented the French spirit with my Moulin Rouge purse.

Good drinks were found at Foundation, one of my favorite spots. This underground bar features only North Carolina-brewed beers and house-made sodas. Don’t come hungry though – this is a beverage-only joint. My friend and I had a delightful dinner at one of my other favorite spots, Remedy Diner, which I featured in my article last summer for Top 10 Dog-Friendly Dining Spots in Raleigh.

Remedy Diner RaleighYou can order my favorite movie character, George Bailey, at Remedy Diner. Featuring Bailey’s, locally-made Joe van Gogh coffee, real whipped cream and cinnamon, this drink is just like the man himself: warm, strong, sweet and GOOD.

Raleigh as Paris

Yes, I'm wearing the beret I bought in Paris.

Although Raleigh’s “Eiffel Tower” didn’t have the romantic command of the real deal, its wimpy nephew was good for a smile!

Being with friends in my favorite city while it “dressed up” as my favorite European city? There couldn’t have been a better way to end the year. With a whole new year ahead and each one better than the last, I wonder what surprises and happy accidents are ahead.

First Night Raleigh Kids

Before my evening began I volunteered with First Night Raleigh’s children’s activity ‘Sailing in the Jardin des Tuileries,’ helping kids make little boats. The most endearing thing working with hundreds of kids all afternoon was them looking at me quizzically with lost eyes and asking, “What am I supposed to write?” They asked this when they were given the freedom to draw, write and decorate their little ships’ sails. Their canvas was a blank “sail”–a sheet of construction paper. With a crayon and freedom, most kids were temporarily paralyzed and looked to me or their parents for guidance on what they should write. Their names? Happy New Year? Mom is the best? Best dad in the world? 2012?

I told them to write whatever they wanted, but they didn’t know what that was. How many times as adults do we stare at a blank computer screen with a blinking cursor tapping each second by while we search for just the right words, the words we should be writing? Why not just put it out there on our own little ship, see if it floats and let the journey begin?

S.S. 2012 is at sea.