By Dawn M Chiossi
New Year’s Eve is often a huge night for the masses. People from all over say goodbye (or in some cases, good riddance) to the old year and welcome in the new one with merriment and fun.
New York’s Time Square is perhaps the most famous, but every location has its own traditions, and Morristown is a prime example. Held at the Morristown Green, the First Night Celebration has been going strong for an impressive 27 years.
Not your ordinary New Year’s event, First Night is truly unique and inclusive. Celebrating the arts and inspiring all creative people out there through community and togetherness, First Night is an event where all the world becomes a stage. Sponsored by Morris Arts, they welcomed in approximately more than 10,000 people to ring in the New Year.
Founded in 1973, Morris Arts seeks to build community though the arts, inspiring and enriching the lives of everyone in the community. Their programs, activities, and events inspire all to connect and engage. First Night is no different, and they are thrilled by this event.
This wonderful tradition is filled with dance, theater, music, world cultures, visual arts and children’s programs; First Night Morris is an ideal event for all creative enthusiasts everywhere. First Night was so popular, not even the deluge of rain on New Year’s Eve could stop visitors from venturing out.
For one affordable price, $25.00 for a single ticket (and an even better sale price for advanced tickets) attendees enjoyed unlimited access to all events. Additionally, a four pack ticket and overnight packages were available.
With over approximately more than 100 artists and 81 events in 23 venues, there was something for every taste out there, and everyone is welcome. This is a great event for families, friends, singles groups, date night, and from everyone from toddlers to 90 year old’s.
According to Dr. Lynn Siebert, Director of Arts Communication and Participation for Morris Arts and Activities Programmer for First Night, this event grew out of a desire to celebrate creativity, the arts and artists. They wanted to give people a family-friendly, alcohol free event, to let their imagination soar!
Seibert explains that First Night is a massive undertaking, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. To her and the numerous amazing volunteers, their hard work and dedication is truly a labor of love.
Music, art, theater, storytelling, visual arts, children’s programming, Morris Arts makes a conscious effort to appeal to everyone. And that includes new artists and acts as well as returning favorites. “First night often spreads by word of mouth and we’ve had many returning visitors. Some that come back year after year,” Seibert explains. “They always find something different and entertaining.”
First Night is a sample of different artistry and cultural pursuits, and it is ideal whether visitors want to see everything that they have to offer or just a few specific acts in particular.
Ideal for those who love to stroll, or hop on the free shuttle bus service, there was so much to enjoy: everything from rock, jazz, blues, folk, chorales, Irish classical music as well as storytellers, comedy, art gallery featuring artists, drawing, dancers and so much more.
Warm and enthusiastic about both Morris Arts and First Night, Seibert says that no matter the category, the one thing that all of the performers have in common is that they all “top in their field’, and First Night offers quality of different offerings. “These are people who excel at what they do,” she enthuses. “You might have seen them on TV, film, radio, or in concerts, or on Broadway.”
Seibert claims that of all the acts, she has many favorites: Among them guitarist Frank Vignola, one of the top 5 guitarists according to legendary Les Paul, Vignola has performed with Ringo Starr and Whyton Marsalis, as well as many others. And she mentions Harmonium Choral Society who launched in an amazing rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” “There’s so many favorites,” she shares.
Seibert additionally can’t say enough regarding the way the various acts participate with the audience—particularly the Children’s programs. “This isn’t your usual spectator event,” she enthuses.
And Seibert brings up another great point: “You can’t go to Broadway or even to a concert for this price, let alone enjoy so much variety and different types of artistic expression all in one night. It’s fantastic!”
In keeping with that essential new years’ tradition, First Night capped off the night with a couple of spectacular firework shows held at 9:15 and at midnight. In a wonderful feat, the Federal Park at Fort Nonsense reopened to launch them!
“People are so enthusiastic for First Night, because they choose to be there,” Seibert asserts. It’s dynamic and engaging. They are all happy with such a positive energy. First Night is a lovely, happy positive part of the community. This is a special way to celebrate the New Year. “