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First Night to ring in new year with magic, music, more

First Night to ring in new year with magic, music, more

What has always been a magical night in Saratoga Springs will be filled with an array of illusion...
First Night to ring in new year with magic, music, more
Sally Gordon and other Saratoga Arts Center volunteers prepare 9,000 First Night buttons and maps on November 7. This year's theme will be 'A Night of Magic.'
Photographer: Eric Jenks

What has always been a magical night in Saratoga Springs will be filled with an array of illusions, stunts, and arts of the mind — in other words, magic — when the 21st annual First Night takes over Broadway this New Year’s Eve.

Details of this year’s event, which starts with a 5K road race at Skidmore College at 5:30 p.m. and ends with midnight fireworks in Congress Park, with an abundance of live music, dancing, comedy and magic in between, along with the theme — “A Night of Magic” — were announced Tuesday morning at Saratoga Arts following a performance by one of the musical acts, Blues Journey.

Joel Reed, executive director of the nonprofit Saratoga Arts which is now celebrating its 30th year, said the theme grew out of last year’s event, when a smaller selection of magic acts, hypnotists, fortune tellers and more drew long lines and lots of excitement.

“So this year we wanted to pump that up a little bit,” he said, adding that those acts will get larger venues and there will be more of them.

The result is 71 acts across 30 downtown venues over the course of six hours, and it’s not just magic — there will be plenty of live music and more stand-up comedy than previous years, as well.

“They’re essentially putting on 200, 250 shows in a single night,” Reed said.

More than 15,000 people are expected to ring in 2017 by attending, organizers said.

The magical acts will include Jon Stetson, a nationally known mentalist who promises to read your mind; Michael Ray, a comic hypnotist with some New Year’s hijinks up his sleeve; Patrick Davis, known for his feats of levitation and up-close magic, and more tarot card readers, rune readers and psychic mediums than ever before. Dan Meyer will also bring to the night his sword-swallowing stunts, which have earned him seven Guinness Book of World Record titles and a place among the top 50 finalists on “America’s Got Talent.”

For the younger magic fans, Boston-based Scott Jameson will return to the stage at Lake Avenue Elementary and make foam balls appear inside the closed hands of unsuspecting helpers.

The mainstage will feature many local favorites, with The Figgs kicking off the night to be followed by Sirsy. Headlining the night will be Wild Adriatic, a rock trio from Saratoga Springs with a new album due out just after the new year.

The comedy lineup will include the Mop & Bucket Company local improv troupe, standup comedians Dwayne Murphy Jr. and Matt Bergman, and local singer-songwriter Erin Harkes, a frequenter of comedy clubs in New York City and Toronto.

At the City Center, The Saratoga Savoy will emcee a dance party with regional favorite Alex Torres & His Latin Orchestra and the local swing group, Nitro Jive. Meanwhile, local bands like the Ramblin Jug Stompers, Living Roots Trio and Darling Valley will play the WEXT stage, along with a a variety of bands spanning the genres of jazz, country-rock and more.

CDTA will provide free shuttle rides to all venues as well as service from the Wilton Mall and Skidmore College. Throughout the night, attendees can enjoy food from local vendors including Lila’s Laidback BBQ, Moby Dick’s Fish Fry, Reggie’s Veggies and a full dinner at the Presbyterian New England Congregational Church to benefit the youth group.

Admission buttons cost $20, which provides access to all venues and performances as well as free CDTA bus service; children ages 12 and younger get in free with the purchase of one adult button.

To honor the organization’s 30th anniversary, buttons will be sold at a discounted rate of $15 from Dec. 1 through 25 at Price Chopper locations, Saratoga Arts at 230 Broadway and online at www.saratoga-arts.org.

Reach Gazette reporter Ned Campbell at 395-3142, [email protected] or @nedcampbell on Twitter.

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