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Inaugural New Year’s Festival connects residents despite fireworks cancellation

Inaugural New Year’s Festival connects residents despite fireworks cancellation

Pawlik: We will do it again next year
Inaugural New Year’s Festival connects residents despite fireworks cancellation
New Year’s Eve revelers get their photo taken at Centro Civico in Amsterdam Monday night.
Photographer: Jason Subik/Gazette Reporter

AMSTERDAM -- Despite cancellation of the midnight fireworks, Amsterdam’s inaugural New Year’s Eve Festival appears to have succeeded in its goal of connecting the public with businesses and organizations within the city. 

Kevin Canale, who was hired to be the city’s municipal golf pro in December, engaged in a meet and greet at Parillos Armory Grill. He said he talked to about 25 people, many of them current members of the municipal golf course. He said he talked about the city’s plans, which include starting a full bar and restaurant at the facility that he will manage. He said the Common Council will vote on applying for the necessary liquor licenses at its meeting on Wednesday. Other ideas he discussed included the city charging for individual users of golf carts and free golfing for children under 18. 

Amsterdam has been struggling to get its municipal golf course to stop running annual deficits. Canale, an Amsterdam native who got his first job working for the city at the municipal golf course in the 1978. He said the most common sentiment Monday night was “good luck.” 

“At a lot of golf courses, membership is dwindling, so we need to tap the untapped markets,” Canale said. 

Michele Pawlik, city's new tourism and recreation assistant, said the city’s first attempt a New Year’s Eve Festival was very much an attempt to help build awareness of what’s available within the city for New Year’s Eve events. She said were about 30 children in attendance at the Creative Connections Clubhouse “make your own cotton candy” event at midday,  20 in attendance at the Bacon Youth Center’s free Wiffle Ball Home Run Derby and 30 in attendance at the  Chuctanunda Creek Trail. 

“People seemed very happy, and that all of the events didn’t center around alcohol, and that there was really something for everyone,” Pawlik said. “We definitely will do this next year.” 

Ladan Alomar, executive director of Centro Civico, said the city’s inclusion of her organization in the festival of events gave Centro Civico and opportunity to introduce Latin American holiday foods to visitors, give people a tour of the facility, including the New Year’s Eve photo booth and a newly licensed day care, and to show people the only 24-hour Spanish AIDS hotline available in New York state. She said she’s looking forward to increased opportunities to connect with the public, particularly with the potential of Amsterdam building a recreation center next door to Centro Civico, possibly as part of the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative. 

“We had one person come in tonight who said they go to church across the street and always wondered what we do here,” she said. 

Pawlik said the festival benefited from a $2,000 donation from Berkshire Farms, which helped pay for most of the marketing materials for the events Monday night. 

Kayla Riccio, manager at Sharpshooter’s in downtown Amsterdam, said she believed the city’s marketing helped her venue have an uptick in customers from last year’s New Year's. 

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