First Night to Be Held at Fairgrounds

First Night Montgomery will be held Dec. 31 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg. Downtown Silver Spring has been home to the event since 1995, but planners announced last week that redevelopment construction there made the relocation unavoidable.

"Although we'd planned to have First Night in Silver Spring this year," Co-chairman Robert H. Metz said in a statement, "we also knew that at some point, the construction would not allow us to do that. Relocating the celebration now helps ensure that we continue the tradition of putting on a top-quality First Night celebration in Montgomery County."

The First Night Montgomery County board of directors passed a resolution to return the event to Silver Spring as soon as the construction schedule allows.

First Night is billed as "a family-oriented, nonalcoholic new year's celebration of the performing and visual arts featuring entertainment for all ages." First Night officials say that while the setting will differ, the celebration otherwise will be the same: from 3 to 6 p.m. a program of entertainment for children and adults; and two laser/fireworks displays--at 6 p.m. and midnight.

Musical acts begin at 7 p.m. and will include Little Feat, The Seldom Scene and DaVinci's Notebook. There will be a blues stage, Latin/salsa entertainment, a swing band, comedy acts, and teenagers' bands from Montgomery County.

Plans for a free shuttle are underway, and on-site parking will be available. For more information on First Night Montgomery County, call 240-777-6821, or visit the Recreation Department's Web site at www.co.mo.md.us/services/rec/fnm.html.

Down-County Area Leaf Collection

Leaf collection for the down-county areas where vacuum collection service is provided is scheduled for Nov. 1 through mid-December. Signs will be posted along streets announcing the dates of collection. Green signs indicate first collection, and red signs will serve as the second and final notice.

The leaf vacuum collection district's outermost boundaries are Interstates 495 and 70; the Rockville city limits; Norbeck, Bel Pre and Bonifant roads; Northwest Branch Park; and the District and Prince George's County lines.

Leaves should be placed in piles or containers on the grass or behind the curb, not on the street or in alleys. Collections are restricted to leaves. Sticks, branches or coarse garden debris should be placed in containers or tied in bundles not more than four feet long and placed where household trash is regularly picked up.

Residents who miss the two scheduled vacuum collections will have to place leaves in paper yard waste bags or reusable containers that will be picked up on the regular yard waste collection day. Leaves placed in plastic bags will not be accepted.

For more information, or to determine whether your residence is within the boundaries of the leaf vacuum collection district, call the Division of Highway Services at 240-777-ROAD, or go to the Department of Public Works and Transportation's Web site at www.dpwt.com/PubWksDiv/vacuum.htm, and click on "Highway Services."