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The First option

Got kids? Don't want to change out of your jeans? Want to skip the champagne? You're in luck. For the 17th time, Buffalo is rolling out the red carpet for 2006 with First Night, a celebration full of family-friendly entertainment.

The fun begins at 6 p.m. on New Year's Eve. You can test your wits with a show led by Dennis George, Buffalo's Quiz Master, and his Original Variety Show. Tots can run amok in a Bounce House. Magicians Bob and Carol Allen will leave everyone agog. And a Dueling Pianos act invites audience members to howl along.

There's also Laser Tag, a chase among black lights. And music by the Macy Favor Band, a mainstay of Buffalo's historic Colored Musicians Club. For sheer energy, you can't beat the Caribbean Extravaganza, with steel drums, calypso and limbo dancing. How low can you go?

Crafts include origami and kite making. And a spectacular finale, complete with confetti, will set the stage for the festive ball drop in nearby Roosevelt Plaza.

This year's First Night Buffalo will be held indoors at the Buffalo Convention Center. Free parking is available at the Fernbach Parking Ramp, 200 Pearl St.; the Main Place Parking Ramp, 223 Pearl St.; and the Mohawk Parking Ramp, 477 Washington St. For revelers who prefer not to drive, Metro Rail will be running past midnight. The last train leaves downtown at 2 a.m.

Tickets, available at Wegmans, are $7 in advance and $10 at the door. For a full schedule of the evening's events, check out www.firstnightbuffalo.com, or call 635-4959.

-- Mary Kunz Goldman

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