Both David Reed-Brown and Robin Lynch knew what they wanted to do with their lives when they were very young. Lynch was found dangling from her crib as a baby, the beginning of a lifelong love of aerial stunts. Reed-Brown did magic shows starting at age 7, but he set that aside to focus on computers, then later on theology.
Late in life, both returned to their true loves. After years in marketing, Lynch is now a professional aerialist. After years as a pastor, Reed-Brown is a professional magician and a pastor on the side. Both will be performing Dec. 31 at First Night Hartford, the city's 26th annual New Year's Eve celebration with entertainment and activities all over downtown from 3 p.m. to midnight.
Lynch will set up a rig in the library atrium area of the Hartord Public Library, 500 Main St., and perform high in the air, her only prop a long silk scarf. She will perform four 15-minute shows, alternating with storyteller Andre Keitt, from 3 to 5 p.m. Reed-Brown will perform at Christ Church Cathedral, 45 Church St., from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Reed-Brown, who is studying interfaith ministries, feels that by performing magic, he's spreading hope, hopefully in a way that embraces people of all religions or no religion. One of his tricks is to tear up paper, shove it into a jar and then make confetti flow out of the jar like snow. "It shows that we're torn and broken one day, but we might be better than we were before this," he said.
Another trick, which involves a Rubik's cube, shows "We may be crazy and confused and mixed up ... but if we have courage and faith, I know we'll be all right," he said.
Reed-Brown, of Simsbury, says being a magician is "being an actor playing a miracle worker," but he wants audience members to feel like miracle-makers, too, so he involves them in his illusions. "It's not about, look how great I am. ... I want the audience to participate so they become the wonder workers."
Lynch was a daredevil as a child, but majored in international studies in college because she didn't think her father would approve of her joining the circus. When she finally broke the news to her parents later in life, that she wanted to do aerial tricks for a living, her father was surprisingly encouraging and her mother said she knew it all along. "I always liked to climb trees, to pop a wheelie. She knew there was something there," she said.
From her 20-foot-tall rig, Lynch flips, spins and bends, protected from falling only by that silk scarf (and a pad on the floor).
Lynch, who is based in New York, has three chlidren, ages 12, 13 and 16. Their reactions to her chosen field are different.
"My 12-year-old is cool with it. My 13- and 16-year-olds say ... 'I don't want my friends to know you do that'," she said. "It's a teenage thing."
Unless otherwise noted, First Night Hartford events, from 3 to midnight, are free with the price of a wristband, which costs $12, $3 ages 3 to 15, free for 2 and younger, can be purchased online at firstnighthartford.org. The State House Square Food Court also will be open.
>>Fireworks at Bushnell Park at 6 p.m. and midnight.
>>The University of Connecticut's men's basketball team is playing Temple University at 1 p.m. at the XL Center. Regular ticket prices apply to that event.
>>The Connecticut Science Center is offering a $2 admission discount for people wearing the First Night Hartford wristband.
>>Horse-drawn wagon rides from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at Bushnell Park cost an additional $3. A photo booth at Center Church House, 60 Gold St., from 4 to 8 p.m. is $1 extra. Fortune tellers, psychics, tarot card readers and crystal ball readers at Elks Club, 34 Prospect St., from 3 to 9 p.m. cost $10 extra for the first 10 minutes, $1 a minute after that.
>>Ice skating in Bushnell Park from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
>>A walking tour, "Architectural Treasures of Hartford," from 3 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m., starting at the east side of the Old State House.
>>Mythical Masks & Necklaces craft activity at Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, 600 Main St., from 3 to 5 p.m.
>>The Now Unboxing Project dance performance, State House Square, from 3 to 3:20 p.m. and 3:30 to 4 p.m.
>>Organ music at Christ Cathedral Church by Thomas Whitestone, 45 Church St., at 3, 4 and 5 p.m.
>>Tours of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, at Bushnell Park near the carousel, between 3 and 5 p.m.
>>Connecticut Academy of Irish Music, preceded by audience participation activities, at Center Church, 675 Main St., from 3 to 5:30 p.m.
>>KidsFest activities at Old State House, 800 Main St., from 3 to 5:45 p.m.
>>Hat-making, and tours, at the Butler McCook House, 396 Main St., from 3 to 7 p.m.
>>Face painting at Old State House, 800 Main St., from 3 to 5:45 p.m., and at Center Church House, 60 Gold St., from 3 to 8 p.m.
>>"The Big Game," a huge board game at City Hall, 550 Main St., by artists David Borawski, Anne Cubberly and LB Munoz, from 3 to 9 p.m.
>>Musical performances in tent at Pump House Gallery in Bushnell Park, Bill Walach alternating with Don Sineti-Steve Roys, from 3 to 9 p.m.
>>Jubilee Fine Art show and sale of images from old Hartford, in the Pump House Gallery in Bushnell Park, from 3 to 9 p.m.
>>Sea Tea Improv comedy troupe, at Central Baptist Church, 457 Main St., from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. and 4:30 to 5:15 p.m.
>>"Hold That Thought," with storytelling and activities, at TD Bank, 203 Trumbull St., from 3:30 to 4 p.m. and 4:30 to 5 p.m.
>>Trivia night at Elks Club, 34 Prospect St., from 4 to 4:45 p.m., 5 to 5:45 p.m., 7 to 7:45 p.m.
>>A demonstration of capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art, at Central Baptist Church, 457 Main St., from 4 to 9 p.m.
>>Musical religious service at Emanuel Lutheran Church, 311 Capitol Ave., from 5 to 5:30 p.m.
>>Dance performances by InsubordiNation, from Six Flags New England, at State House Square Food Court from 5 to 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 7 p.m.
>>A grand procession parade, from City Hall to Bushnell Park. from 5:15 to 5:45 p.m.
>>Classical music concert, Cathedral of St. Joseph's, 140 Farmington Ave., from 6 to 7 p.m.
>>Kwanzaa celebration at Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Ave., from 6 to 8 p.m.
>>Jason Pipitone's variety show at Central Baptist Church, 457 Main St., from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m.
>>Music by Dan Ringrose and Jeanne Freeman, at Center Church, 675 Main St., from 7 to 7:30 p.m. and 7:45 to 8:15 p.m.
>>Circophony Youth Circus from Middletown, in the State House Square food court from 7:30 to 8:15 p.m. (See page 35).
>>H.A.M., a jazz-funk-rock trio, at Central Baptist Church, 457 Main St., from 8:15 to 9 p.m.
>>The Bushnell Park carousel is closed due to construction.
First Night Hartford runs from 3 p.m. to midnight on Dec. 31 at various downtown venues. Wristbands cost $12, $3 ages 3 to 15, free for 2 and younger, and can be purchased online through Christmas. They can also be purchased at AAA locations, CBT/Berkshire Banks, the Old State House, the Greater Hartford Welcome Center on Pearl Street, Highland Park Markets, the Ramada Plaza Hartford, TD BANK on Trumbull Street and Whole Foods Markets. Downtown parking rates have been discounted. More information: www.firstnighthartford.org.