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First Night Saratoga draws people from all over the country

First Night Saratoga draws people from all over the country

Approximately 9,000 people attended the New Years event on Monday
First Night Saratoga draws people from all over the country
Sydney Worthley performs during First Night Saratoga 2019 on New Year's Eve at Saratoga Springs City Center.
Photographer: Erica Miller

SARATOGA SPRINGS -- Whether it’s music, puppet shows or even stand up comedy, First Night Saratoga attracted approximately 9,000 people on Monday, including some from different parts of the country.

It’s something that has become a common trend for the event in its 23 years, according to First Night Director Alexina Jones. She said the event last year attracted people from 17 states and 9 counties throughout New York who looked to ring in the New Year in Saratoga. There were even people that came to the event from three different countries, Jones said.

Jone said they are able to keep track of where people are coming from through online ticket sales. However, she was unclear on what those figures looked like for this year as they had not had a chance to go over those figures Monday night.

Jones said there tends to be a diverse group of people that come to the event each year. It’s something that is sometimes the result of the different types of acts they have.

Images: First Night Saratoga 2019, Dec. 31, 2018

“It depends on the kind of groups we have and where those groups have performed in the past, and whether they have cultivated some kind of following,” Jones said.

There were several acts that performed during the New Year's celebration on Monday. They included Sydney Worthley and Sawyer Fredericks who played at the Saratoga Springs City Center, The Ramblin’ Jug Stompers who played at the Salvation Army of Saratoga Springs, and The Onlys who played at Temple Sinai.

Davina and Steve Foti have traveled to First Night Saratoga from Exeter, New Hampshire for three years in a row to see the band Sirsy. It’s a band they said they actually discovered by coming to First Night and have now seen them in five different states since.

“They are great people, they’re a great band and they’re great musicians,” Davina Foti said.

The pair said they love Saratoga and even visit during the summer. So, when they saw there was rain in the forecast for Monday night, they said it wasn’t something that was going to stop them.

“[Steve] checked the weather and found out it wasn’t going to be too bad,” Davina Foti said. “So, we said, ‘Yeah, we’ll do it. We’ll be a little bit adventurous.’”

The Fotis were waiting in line at the Lake Avenue Elementary School for the Elvis LIVE! Performances. It’s an act that includes 19-year-old Matthew Boyce and 14-year-old Spencer Boyce, both from Saratoga, portraying Elvis during different time periods. Matthew Boyce plays Elvis from the 1970s while Spencer Boyce covers the 1950s.

Spencer Boyce opened the show, donning a sparkling gold suit jacket, bouncing onto the stage while the backing band -- The Suspicious Minds Tribute Band -- played “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”

The point of the act is to make people who may have seen Elvis Presley before live, and even those who haven’t, feel like they’re seeing him in person. It’s a performance the crowd really enjoys, Spencer Boyce said. “It’s a really cool experience to be able to do that for some people.”

The First Night event is able to draw a crowd through its eclectic mix of performances, which on Monday included a puppet show from Arm-of-the-Sea Puppet Theater, as well as theater performances from the act Shakespeare Approves!

It’s what has drawn Sofia Fojo and her boyfriend to travel to Saratoga from Los Angeles for the last four years. She said she was introduced to the event through her boyfriend, whose originally from Saratoga.

Images: First Night Saratoga 2019, Dec. 31, 2018

Fojo said she has enjoyed the event so much that she made sure to bring her dad from Los Angeles for this year’s event.

There is nothing like First Night Saratoga in Los Angeles, Fojo said. It’s become a tradition now for her to go to dinner, then head to First Night and then see the fireworks.

“I feel like [Los Angeles] is a very isolated place,” Fojo said. “There’s not events like this where you kind of bring together a lot of people in the community to celebrate. You kind of do your own thing.”

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