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A friend who plays the clubs a lot confessed recently that, for the first time in ages, he didn't have a gig on the night that every working musician works -- New Year's Eve. Last year, he added, he'd played First Night Buffalo, but this year he missed the application deadline back in August or September.

It all goes to show just how incredibly well-organized this second edition of First Night Buffalo is. The non-alcoholic, family-oriented New Year's Eve celebration, begun in Boston in 1976 and now replicated in 60 other cities across North America, is presented here by Western New York United Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse. It drew an estimated 20,000 to Buffalo Place downtown in its premiere last year. Barring a blizzard, this time it will be bigger and better.

Actually, the weather shouldn't make much of a difference. There are 26 indoor performance sites along Main Street from Tupper Street to the Ellicott Square Building, each with a new show starting every 45 minutes. There will be a Kids' Korner in the Goldome Center, big-band swing in Ellicott Square, country music in Shea's Buffalo, rock bands for teens in Main Place, ethnic performers in the Erie Community College atrium.

A $5 advance sale admission button (available at Tops and Wilson Farms stores) provides entry to them all. For those who wish to remain on the outside, local artists will create a Sight & Sound show with neon, video, film, sculptures, exhibits and performers in windows and open spaces along the street. The affair begins at 5 p.m. with a grand procession and concludes at midnight with a ball drop and fireworks display at the Niagara Mohawk Building.

-- Dale Anderson

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