SARATOGA SPRINGS – Spa City’s First Night is not in the cards this year, organizers confirmed on Friday.
“First Night is not going to be happening this year for a multitude of reasons, which I’m sure is no big surprise,” said Louise Kerr, the executive director of Saratoga Arts, which coordinates First Night.
“Obviously, it’s an enormous amount of time [and] effort, financial effort as well. This year it’s just not going to be possible, unfortunately,” Kerr said.
The New Year’s Eve event typically brings upwards of 10,000 people to downtown Saratoga Springs. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, gatherings of that size are not permitted at this time. Beyond the sheer number of people who attend, the evening also includes several hours of live music and entertainment; last year, more than 50 bands performed at various venues across the city.
“A lot of what First Night entails, we can’t even do right now,” said Kerr, who stepped into the role of executive director earlier this season.
Boston originated the “First Night” event in 1976, hosting an alcohol-free celebration with music and other festivities. Saratoga adopted the model 25 years ago and it’s one of the only remaining events of its kind in the area, according to Saratoga Arts.
For many, it’s become a long-standing family tradition. Mateo Vosganian, a member of the band Wild Adriatic, which headlined First Night last year, told the Gazette that he and his fellow band members have been attending the event for years.
“We just remember being kids and going out with our parents and seeing all the crazy acts,” Vosganian said.
First Night also tends to draw people in not only from the Capital Region but from across the country, and even the globe. In 2018, people from 17 states, nine counties and three different countries attended the event, according to a previous Gazette story.
“I’m hopeful that next year there’ll be a nice, robust First Night in some other capacity, but certainly nothing this particular season,” Kerr said.
She added that Saratoga Arts is hoping to join with other arts organizations in the area to plan smaller community events later this year. Details on those events are still to come.