"First Night": The free, family-style New Year's Eve celebration is scheduled from noon Sunday to midnight at Arizona Center, 455 North Third Street. Phoenix's "First Night" fest features performances by 80 music and arts groups, including Phoenix Bach Choir, Great Arizona Puppet Theater, Movement Source Dance Company, and Four Seasons Orchestra. Also planned: a fireworks display. Call 331-3220.
"Holiday Happenings Around the World" and "Picture This: Focus on Endangered Species": Phoenix Zoo, 455 North Galvin Parkway, in Papago Park, hosts "Holiday Happenings," where kids learn about the seasonal celebrations of other cultures via events like the "Ho! Ho! Holiday Hay Maze," gift-making sessions and art classes; December's entry continues through Saturday. Participation is free with regular admission. Call 273-1341.
Holiday Stories: Leticia Pizzino tells winter tales, augmented with songs, at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Mesa Public Library, 64 East First Street. Admission is free. Call 644-2705.
"Wild Winter Nights": Wildlife World Zoo features thousands of lights placed strategically around the grounds at the menagerie, 165th Avenue and Northern in Litchfield Park. Special admission is $4, free for kids age 2 and under. For details call 935-9453.
arts and minds
"Celebrating 40 Years: Many Faces, One World": The exhibit features works by kids from Scottsdale and its sister cities: Kingston, Ontario, Canada; Cairns, Queensland, Australia; and Alamos, Sonora, Mexico. It continues in Young at Art Gallery at Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 7380 East Second Street. The creators of the best works will be announced at a reception January 18; the first-place finisher receives $300 and entry in the Sister Cities International competition in Boston in the spring. Admission and viewing are free. Call 994-2787.
"A Child Is a Gift": Works by artists-in-training from South Mountain Magnet Arts High School, the Coalition of Black Artists, and the ArtWeb program of Boys & Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix are displayed inthis exhibit, which continues through Tuesday at Symphony Hall, 225 East Adams. For details call 954-8182 or 262-7272.
Fiesta Bowl National Junior Tennis Championships: United States Tennis Association-ranked players ages 12 to 18 compete in the 23rd annual tourney, which has produced big-time competitors like Pete Sampras and Tracy Austin. The preliminaries continue daily, through Saturday, at Radisson Resort Scottsdale, 7171 North Scottsdale Road, and at other Valley venues. Call 957-3311.
Football Signing: In conjunction with the exhibit "Buffaloes, Bulldogs and Bowl Games: One Hundred Years of Football in Tempe," Frank Kush, John Zucco and Dan Devine are scheduled for autograph sessions and photo opportunities from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday at Tempe Historical Museum, 809 East Southern. Call 350-5100.
NCAA Youth Education Through Sports Clinic: Kids ages 10 to 18 are invited to participate in this free football instruction, which stresses academic awareness and achievement. It starts at 2:30 p.m. Friday at ASU's practice fields in Tempe. Call 350-0900.
at the museum
"Bear With Us": The exhibit at Arizona Museum for Youth, 35 North Robson in Mesa, features multimedia representations of bruins of all shapes, sizes and sorts by Joe Baker, Carolyn Lavender, Anne Coe, Linda and Don Asakawa, Tom Franklin, Alonzo Jimenez, Ree Nancarrow and Dick George, plus interactive games and learning activities. It continues through February 2. The museum is open this week from 10 a.m. to 5p.m. Thursday, Friday, Tuesday and Wednesday; it's closed Sunday. Call 644-2467.
"The Great Russian Dinosaurs": Mesa Southwest Museum, 53 North Macdonald, presents this major touring exhibition of 24 full skeletons, and remains of dino nests, eggs and hatchlings and other specimens collected this century from sites in Mongolia. Call 644-2230.
on the stage
Babes in Toyland: Greasepaint, Scottsdale Youtheatre presents Victor Herbert's operetta at 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday and Wednesday through January 7 at Stagebrush Theatre, 7020 East Second Street in Scottsdale. Tickets are $5. Call 990-7646.
Great Arizona Puppet Theater: This week's performances of Cinderella are at 10 a.m. and 2p.m. Thursday through Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday and 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Wednesday at the theatre, 3302 North Seventh Street. The production continues to January 7. Reservations are suggested. Call 277-1275.