Menino Announces Plans For First Night In Boston

The mayor revealed program highlights for this year’s celebration, presented by the city and The Highland Street Foundation.

Despite the popular event’s longtime organizer going out of business in June, donors were able to step up to the plate and save the beloved New Year’s Eve tradition of First Night in Boston.

On Thursday, Mayor Tom Menino announced new plans and highlights for this year’s event on December 31, 2013, from 1 p.m. until after midnight.

Menino said fireworks, sponsored by the Mugar Foundation and Boston 4 Productions, will go off early in the night, followed by an additional celebration at the stroke of midnight on the Harbor, presented by State Street bank.

The Bank of America Grand Procession will bring new participation from The Gay Pride Parade, marching bands, and art cars “ringing in the new year in a bigger and brighter display than ever before.” The traditional ice sculptures will also be on display.

This year, all First Night outdoor events are free, and admission to indoor events requires the purchase of a First Night button, which go for $10 at select locations.

“First Night has its roots in Boston and keeping this tradition alive is so important to our city. It’s a day that welcomes children, families and visitors from all over the region to celebrate our cultural community,” Menino said in a statement. “We’ve got a great line-up to announce … and will have many more exciting announcements as we draw closer to the [end of the year].”

The 2014 celebration will be Menino’s last as mayor of Boston.

The event’s fate was on the line over the summer, after the non-profit group that has been organizing it for decades suddenly had to close its doors. The Board of Directors of First Night said in June that the agency didn’t have the funds to continue planning for the 2014 celebration. The non-profit voted to cease operations, after 37 years of events in Boston on New Year’s Eve.

The board cited declining foundation and sponsorship dollars as the main reason First Night would not be able to raise the funds necessary to produce this year’s event. Luckily, other large sponsors were able to fill the void, partnering with city officials, in order to keep the tradition alive.

Thanks to donors like Highland Street Foundation, which gave $100,000 to support the popular celebration and will be the lead sponsor for the upcoming event, it was able to continue on to ring in 2014.

“Highland Street is proud to partner with Mayor Menino to continue the time honored tradition of First Night in the City of Boston,” said Blake Jordan, executive director of The Highland Street Foundation. “We’re looking forward to a special celebration with children, families and all First Night participants.”

Founded in 1976, First Night Boston is the country’s oldest and largest New Year’s arts celebration. It attracts more than a million attendees annually, and generates an estimated $47 million in revenue for the city, according to officials.