Up Front

First Things December 2014

A roundup of happenings in SW Michigan
New Year’s Fest

Ring in 2015 with your friends and family at New Year’s Fest, an all-ages showcase of performing arts hosted by downtown Kalamazoo businesses and organizations.
The Kalamazoo Public Library, First United Methodist Church, the Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites, the Epic Theatre, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts and many more organizations near Bronson Park open their doors to the public during New Year’s Fest to serve as venues for more than 70 family entertainment options.

This year, expect to see the Simon & Garfunkel tribute duo Old Friends, the country and Southern rock band North Country Flyers, the soul and R&B band Yolonda Lavender and Bedrock, and aerialist Laura Ernst among the many acts. And yes, Elvis and Frank Sinatra will be there, too (or at least facsimiles of them).

Festivities kick off at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 31 and end with a fireworks show at midnight.

Admission buttons are $5, if purchased before Dec. 31 at any Harding’s Marketplace, the Kalamazoo Public Library or other admission locations. Buttons are $10 if purchased the day of the festival. Children under 3 get free admission. For more information, including a complete list of the scheduled entertainment, visit NewYearsFest.com.

Life is a cabaret

What’s better on a chilly winter’s eve than settling into a theater seat with coffee and desserts and taking in a cabaret?

This month Farmers Alley Theatre is staging And the World Goes ’Round, the second production in their cabaret series. An award- winning production that has been an off- Broadway hit since 1991, this musical revue features music by John Kander and lyrics by Fred Ebb. The show offers comic numbers, love songs and torch songs, including such hit tunes such as “All That Jazz,” “Maybe this Time” and “New York, New York.”

With the coffee and desserts and a traditional cabaret atmosphere to boot, it doesn’t get any sweeter than this.

And the World Goes ’Round runs from Dec. 5 —28; tickets are $34 to $36. To purchase tickets, visit FarmersAlleyTheatre.com.

Giving to those in need

’Tis the season to give – and give back. This December the Salvation Army of Kalamazoo offers its annual holiday assistance programs, including the Christmas Toy Shop, which allows locals the opportunity to offer time, goods and donations to support area families in need.

The Christmas Toy Shop, a free toy shop for parents unable to afford presents during the holiday season, serves more than 4,000 children a year. The shop is stocked by donations received during the Angel Tree Toy Drive. Volunteers collect toys and prep the shop for its three-day run, from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m Dec. 17-19.

Qualifying families can select gifts for children under 16.

Want to help? You can assist the Toy Shop by placing a donation box in your business, donating toys to the drive or lending your strength to set up or break down the event.

For more information about the Christmas Toy Shop, the Angel Tree Toy Drive, visit TSAKalamazoo.org/kalamazoo/2014-holiday-volunteering.


Something Delicious

Portage, Ziingo, Urban, Asian, Cuisine

Grab-and-go Asian cuisine

Fans of Chinn Chinn, rejoice! You won’t have to wait in Mattawan anymore to enjoy the delicious Asian bistro cuisine the family-owned restaurant is famous for.

That’s because John Tsui, Chinn Chinn’s owner, opened Ziingo at 3830 W. Centre Ave. in Portage last month, and the new restaurant is focused specifically on getting delicious food to customers more quickly. That’s great, since the only complaint many Chinn Chinn loyalists seem to have, at least in its more than 50 favorable Google reviews, is that the wait for a table or takeout at Chinn Chinn during peak hours is daunting.

As a small but popular restaurant, Chinn Chinn operates at full capacity, complete with long waits (sometimes hours) during dinner. In comparison, Ziingo operates as a build-it-yourself dining experience, like Chipotle or Qdoba, promising a much shorter wait for busy diners.

For more information, call (269) 459-1090.