TRA­DI­TION SAVED

Spa City ral­lies to keep First Night fire­works

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Melissa Schu­man mschu­[email protected]­di­anews­group.com Re­porter

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. >> Saratoga Arts, the non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion run­ning First Night for the 10th year in a row re­vealed a new plan for First Night fire­works.

Tra­di­tion­ally, Spa City has cel­e­brated First Night with fire­works at mid­night. The py­rotech­ni­cal display rings in the new year with lights and noise, and is gen­er­ally one of the event’s last sched­uled ac­tiv­i­ties. This year, it’s chang­ing.

In fact, this year the fire­works al­most didn’t hap­pen. As Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Joel Reed ex­plained dur­ing the press con­fer­ence, “a lot of peo­ple don’t re­al­ize how much money it costs to put on a com­plex event like First Night, and for a pri­vate non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion like Saratoga Arts, some­times the bud­get can be very tight.”

The fire­works display alone costs about $10,000, and un­for­tu­nately, when Reed and board pres­i­dent Su­sanne Simp­son were look­ing at this year’s First Night bud­get, it was one of the things they de­cided would have to be trimmed out.

But when word got

out that there wouldn’t be fire­works at First Night, the city ral­lied. In­di­vid­u­als and cor­po­ra­tions alike all de­cided that that just wouldn’t do.

Mayor Me­gan Kelly com­mu­ni­cated and co­or­di­nated be­tween Saratoga Arts and com­mu­nity lead­ers to se­cure fund­ing from sources all over the city. Sup­port came in fast and strong from all parts of the city’s leg­is­la­ture, from the Cham­ber of Com­merce to the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works to pub­lic safety. When the dust set­tled, there was a con­tract with San­tore Fire­works, all the nec­es­sary per­mits and pa­per­work, and all the nec­es­sary fund­ing to make it hap­pen.

“This is thanks to tremen­dous ef­fort from the com­mu­nity,” Reed said at Thurs­day’s press con­fer­ence. “It’s such a great ex­am­ple of the part­ner­ships that hap­pen in the com­mu­nity that make Saratoga the great city it is.”

The big change in the fire­works display this year is in the tim­ing. For the first time, the fire­works will kick off First Night in­stead of close it out. The display will hap­pen at 5:45 p.m. in Congress Park, and it will be free.

“We re­ally feel that hav­ing the fire­works at the start of First Night is a win-forall-sit­u­a­tion,” Simp­son said. “It makes the fire­works very fam­ily-friendly, and keeps the tra­di­tion in place.”

Hav­ing the fire­works at the start of First Night means kids aren’t up long past their bed­time wait­ing to see the display.

Once the fire­works are done, all the restau­rants in town will still be open for busi­ness - you can catch an early meal be­fore hit­ting the rest of the fes­ti­val with­out hav­ing to try to leave and come back. And it’s com­pletely free to at­tend.

To main­tain the tra­di­tion of a mid­night event that wel­comes in the new year, Saratoga Arts is also un­veil­ing First Night’s first ever Dig­i­tal Mid­night, a slideshow presentati­on that will also be free to at­tend. For those who don’t want to stay out that late, Dig­i­tal Mid­night will be avail­able for home view­ing through a live-stream on the Saratoga Arts web­site.

A stream­ing link is avail­able on the First Night page of the web­site, www.sarato­gaarts.org.

Also at the press con­fer­ence, Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Todd Shimkus an­nounced the cre­ation of the Saratoga Fire­works Fund.

“We’re in­ter­ested in a way that we can per­ma­nently have fire­works at First Night and on the Fourth of July,” he said. “With the new fund, com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als can choose to make do­na­tions or be­come spon­sors to make sure we al­ways have the fund­ing we need to al­ways have fire­works.”

Apart from the fire­works and Dig­i­tal Mid­night, First Night but­tons will be re­quired to par­tic­i­pate in the rest of the night’s ac­tiv­i­ties. But­tons cost $20 and are still on sale at a va­ri­ety of lo­ca­tions, in­clud­ing on­line. Prof­its from First Night event sales will fund Saratoga Arts pro­gram­ming through­out the year.

To learn more about the Saratoga Fire­works Fund, and to make a do­na­tion or sign up for spon­sor­ship, visit https://se­cure. give­lively.org/do­nate/saratoga-county-foun­da­tion­inc/saratoga-springs-fire­works-fund.

MELISSA SCHU­MAN - ME­DI­ANEWS GROUP

Saratoga Arts ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Joel Reed and board pres­i­dent Su­sanne Simp­son an­nounce the changes to the First Night fire­works.

MELISSA SCHU­MAN - ME­DI­ANEWS GROUP

Cham­ber of Com­merce pres­i­dent Todd Shimkus an­nounces the cre­ation of the Saratoga Fire­works Fund.

MELISSA SCHU­MAN - ME­DI­ANEWS GROUP

Com­mis­sioner Peter Martin com­ments on the changes to the First Night fire­works.

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