First Night Saratoga is the Capital Region’s premier New Year’s Eve event, but 2013 will be welcomed in a variety of ways and locations throughout the region.
In Schenectady, for example, Proctors on State Street has a full slate of New Year’s Eve performances scheduled.
First Night of Funny, a showcase of four professional comedians, will start with the laughs at 8 p.m. on the Proctors main stage.
The Funk-n-Country New Year’s Eve Bash will start at 9:30 p.m. Dec. 31 in the GE Theater at Proctors with Funk Revolution and Skeeter Creek performing. The musical event, with New York City-inspired foods, culminates at midnight with a live, high-definition feed of the ball dropping in Manhattan’s Times Square and fireworks over the Statue of Liberty. For more information, see www.proctors.org.
Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers will dance again with the showing of the 1936 classic “Swing Time,” with screenings at 2:30 p.m., 4:45 p.m. and 7 p.m. Dec. 31 in the GE Theater at Proctors. Tickets are $5.
Planning started 11 months ago for First Night Saratoga, said Joel Reed, executive director of Saratoga Arts.
Saratoga Arts is coordinating the family-friendly, alcohol-free event in downtown Saratoga Springs that starts at 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31.
“Explore the Night” is the theme of this year’s First Night. More than 30 venues up and down Broadway and other locations will provide a variety of entertainment, from live music such as Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra to First Fest, a gathering of seven up-and-coming new rock bands appearing at the Saratoga Springs City Center.
Storefronts along Broadway will feature performers, dancers, artwork and singing groups.
Young people will enjoy the juggling, tumbling antics of Buccaneer Bindlestiff’s Swashbuckling Circus from Brooklyn performing at the Lake Avenue Elementary School, said Jackie Marchand, the First Night coordinator for Saratoga Arts.
“We encourage people to go out and see something new,” Marchand said about the “Explore the Night” theme.
The new First Night Saratoga poster, which is used on the First Night buttons, was created by Sharon Bolton of Ambrosino Design Inc. of Saratoga Springs. This design group has won national awards for their First Night posters over the years.
“This is the biggest New Year’s Eve celebration between Manhattan and Montreal,” Marchand said. An estimated 15,000 attended last year’s First Night, and this year’s edition is expected to attract a similar crowd.
CDTA buses will be providing free rides from a variety of parking locations to downtown Saratoga all night long.
The 15th annual First Night 5K race will start at 5:30 p.m. from Skidmore College’s athletic complex on the college’s North Broadway campus.
The First Night organizers are offering an Early Bird $2 discount on the $15 fee for a First Night button that gets a person into all of the performance locations. Those purchasing First Night buttons before Dec. 1 are eligible for the discount. For more information, visit www.saratoga-arts.org and click on First Night Saratoga.
First Night Saratoga buttons will also be sold throughout the region at Stewart’s Shops, Price Chopper supermarkets and Adirondack Trust Co. bank locations, among other locations.
Marchand said 250 volunteers are needed to staff First Night.
“We have a lot of repeat volunteers,” she said. But more are needed.
“You get a free button and poster, and you just have to volunteer for a three-hour shift,” Marchand said. For more information on volunteering, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Electric is sponsoring “GE Kids in Free” for First Night. When an adult buys a First Night button, there will be a coupon attached that can be redeemed at Saratoga Arts at 320 Broadway, the Saratoga Springs City Center at 522 Broadway or the Lake Avenue Elementary School for a wristband that will allow one free admission of a child 12 and younger.
First Night Saratoga is one of only four such events held in the state. The other First Nights are held in Saranac Lake, Buffalo and Syracuse.
First Night Saranac Lake includes more than 75 performers at 12 venues throughout the Adirondack town. More than 2,000 adults and children attended last year’s event.
The city of Albany and other cities in the Capital Region have held First Nights in the past but no longer host the events.
One of the more popular year-end events in Albany is the 16th annual Last Run, a 5K road race that starts at 5 p.m. Dec. 15 on State Street near the Capitol. The runners go through Washington Park and jog past the holiday lights.
Fireworks are set off at the start of the run on Washington Avenue near the Empire State Plaza, according to city officials. The run generally sells out its 1,500 slots well before Thanksgiving.
And on New Year’s Day, some people like to take a refreshing dip in Lake George as part of the annual Polar Plunge held each year in Lake George Village’s Shepard Park Beach at 2 p.m. Jan. 1.