NEWBURYPORT - Saturday night, arts lovers from all over the North Shore convened at the Firehouse to celebrate the local community and to support the Firehouse Center for the Arts in its mission to keep the arts alive at home.

That night the theater was home to the First Annual Townie Awards and a Way-Off-Broadway Party. Party-goers were greeted at the front door with a red-carpet welcome by host John Budzyna. Other award ceremonies have Joan Rivers to utter the words, "And who are you wearing?" but the Townie Awards have Angelina Bobo a.k.a. Tracy Bickel.

Inside, the theater was decorated with azaleas of many shades; glittering stars and balloons were scattered throughout the historic building. On stage Jack Senier played show tunes on the new Steinway piano.

A few organizations and individuals carried home Townie Awards to place inside their trophy cabinets.

In the Best Producer category, The Institution for Savings was awarded for their role in helping to produce theater at the Firehouse. Best Individual in a Supporting Role went to Sam Collinson, who put in a record-breaking 130 volunteer-hours at the Firehouse last year.

Every award ceremony has their "sweep" nominee, and at the presentation, the Newburyport Art Association stepped into that role. Voters were asked to select from nonprofit organizations that were nominated for their contribution to community arts in the Lifetime Achievement Award. Elena Bachrach, executive director of the association, accepted the award on behalf of the art organization and then moments later returned to the podium to collect her own award as the Ultimate Townie 2012 — the person who contributed to the greater Newburyport community by making it more fun, more interesting and better for those around them.

The Firehouse thanks all who helped to make this event a successful and fun evening: the generous sponsors, the donors who supplied wonderful auction items, the committee members and other volunteers who gave so much of their time and talents, and each and every guest who danced the night away.

The Firehouse Center for the Arts is member-based organization located on the waterfront in Newburyport, with a 195-seat theater. The Firehouse offers "arts-inspired experiences" including film, dance, theater, concerts, children's programming, a new works festival and an art gallery that exhibits works by local and international artists. The Firehouse is handicap accessible.

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