Four months after organizers canceled Boston’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration, First Night 2014 is set to happen due to an increase in funds from outside donors.
First Night, Inc. had been organizing the event for 37 years, but due to a lack of donations and sponsors, organizers announced in June they would shut it down. In response, several organizations donated enough to save the celebration, officials announced Wednesday. The Highland Street Foundation is lead sponsor and is donating $100,000.
“Thanks to the Mayor’s [Boston Mayor Thomas Menino] leadership, we are one of many organizations who have come together to ensure First Night Boston is back again this year,” said Blake Jordan, executive director of Highland Street Foundation. “The trustees felt that it was important for Boston to have a First Night. First Night was started here.”
The celebration, which was the first of its kind in the country, traditionally has held attractions and performances all around Boston on New Year’s Eve, continuing into the next day. The 2014 edition will be
Laura Roberts, board chair of First Night, said she is glad officials were able to gather funds after initially being unable to do so.
“We are thrilled that the city and Mayor Menino have embraced the festival and that Highland Street Foundation is supporting it,” she said. “With the change in leadership at City Hall [once another mayor is elected], it is hard to predict what will happen after Dec. 31, 2013, but the board will do whatever it can to ensure a long-term solution.”
Roberts said First Night will have some staff at the event this year, but does not have an “active role” in the event’s organization.
Jordan said First Night would likely continue as an annual celebration after 2014.
“We’ve been long-time supporters of First Night,” he said. “We’ll be happy to do it [donate] again.”
Some residents of Boston said they were pleased to know that the long-time tradition will be continued.
Kim Wedge, 55, resident of Back Bay, said she has attended the New Year’s Eve celebration seven times and that its continuation is important for Boston.
“It’s a nice tradition, which cities like this run on,” she said. “It’s a celebration of what living in this climate is like. It’s also just a great option, inexpensive and outside with so many people. Strolling through the city on a holiday . . . It is always a wonderful experience, very enjoyable.”
Joe McGlouflin, 61, resident of Boston, said the city should keep First Night.
“It is extremely important for the city and the residents to have this celebration,” he said. “With so many people of all ages from the community coming out, it helps maintain sobriety. There are less drunken acts and less drugs and it makes people less apt to go wild in an unsafe way.”
Paul Brookes, 48, resident of Jamaica Plain, said the celebration is a socially important event for the city.
“I don’t think it ever should have lost funding in the first place,” he said. “I like it, and it’s a great event for the city of Boston. Everything about it, such as the ice sculptures, brings the people out and brings the community together for a night.”