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Ways to welcome 2020

Folks gaze up toward the sky as fireworks explode over Lake Flower during First Night Saranac Lake Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

SARANAC LAKE — Like any holiday, New Year’s Eve has two sides.

Thanksgiving means lots of delicious food, but it also means spending cringe-worthy time with family members you may not see eye-to-eye with on socio-political topics. Christmas means gifts and holiday cheer, but it also cane mean worrying about finances and maybe telling your kids that Santa won’t deliver so much this year.

New Year’s Eve is often viewed as a big celebration with champagne popping and glass balls dropping, and Carson Daly is somewhere in the mix. However, the day comes with trying to make the best party plans, thinking of a resolution you’ll actually stick to and finding a person to kiss at the stroke of midnight.

Some people rejoice and deem New Year’s a beautiful ending and a fresh start, while others view it as just another day.

Audience members laugh at the improvisational comedy of Completely Stranded at the First Presbyterian Church hall during First Night Saranac Lake Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

First Night

Saranac Lake has First Night, a six-hour-long, alcohol-free event that features multiple musical, comedy and children’s performers. It all culminates in a fireworks show over Lake Flower. It’s been an annual event for the past 14 years.

First Night Chair Sue Patterson said her group hasn’t counted exactly how many buttons it sold, but she called Tuesday night’s event a success. First Night sells buttons instead of tickets for the event.

“I can say we sold a lot of teenager buttons,” she said. “I think it was close to 100. That’s, like, a record, so we’re excited about that. In the beginning, we never had any teens. They kind of thought it was just for old people. I think it’s the improv groups and the comedy that brings them in.”

Alex Torres & his Latin Orchestra get the crowd excited at the Harrietstown Town Hall during First Night Saranac Lake Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

Couples and families come from all over to experience First Night. Lily Bader and her parents drove four-and-a-half hours from Canandaigua in Ontario County for the celebration. Their first stop was at the First United Methodist Church of Saranac Lake to watch children’s music group Animal Crackers perform. Lily got up and danced with Ellie Henderson of Saranac Lake, mimicking animals like alligators, rats and unicorns. Pretty soon the two were in a conga line, snaking through the audience.

Over at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Celtic musicians Hanz Araki, Colleen Raney and Bethany Waickman performed two sets to nearly 100 people each. Many were turned away at the door because the show was too crowded.

The last big show of the night was salsa group Alex Torres & his Latin Orchestra at the Harrietstown Town Hall. Dozens of people danced, including Chantelle Kite and Jamie Whidden of Saranac Lake, who held their daughter Sophia on his shoulders.

Outside, Garrett Musson and his family from Goshen, in Orange County, traveled to the Tri-Lakes for a ski trip. They stopped over to First Night to watch the fireworks explode and take some family photos. They wore those oversized 2020 novelty glasses and said “ski trip” instead of “cheese” as the camera flashed.

Kids dance in a conga line while children’s music group Animal Crackers performs at the First United Methodist Church of Saranac Lake during First Night Saranac Lake Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

‘It’s only a day’

Skip Murray, a Saranac Lake photographer who shows up to many public gatherings with camera in hand, was at the town hall, taking photos.

As trumpet player Jon Bronk went crazy on his horn and salsa fans Max Pineda and Glenda Colon danced the Rumba, Murray took photos, capturing their Latin moves. He even joined in for a bit on the dance floor.

Murray likes a good party, but he thinks celebrating the new year doesn’t make too much sense.

Ellie Henderson, center, and two other children dance to the music of the Mammals at the Harrietstown Town Hall during First Night Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

“Time doesn’t exist in nature,” he said. “We put it there, so I think New Year’s is rather contrived.”

After the 10-second countdown was done and we entered 2020, a group of regulars celebrated at the Rusty Nail bar. It was the same group that’s normally there every Tuesday for pool and the open-mic night. Mike Comiskey stood at the bar drinking a Busch and wearing a party lei.

He said as you get older, New Year’s Eve loses its charm.

“I came out for a drink because, you know, it beats sitting at home,” he said. “But you don’t really look forward to New Year’s as much as an adult. Once you get married or have kids, there are more important things than going out and getting drunk.”

Spencer Bucolo and Sarah Chien spent New Year’s Eve at the Waterhole, having a few drinks, chilling with friends and listening to Grateful Dead tribute band Gratefully Yours.

Spencer Bucolo and Sarah Chien spent their New Year’s Eve at the Waterhole in Saranac Lake, having a few drinks, chilling with close friends and listening to Grateful Dead tribute band Gratefully Yours. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

Bucolo said he’s not the biggest fan of New Year’s because of the “new year, new me” concept.

“People always say things are going to be different because of New Year’s resolutions, but honestly, it never really goes that way,” he said.

Whether it’s to start working out more or to stop smoking cigarettes, Bucolo said resolutions don’t often pan out the way people want them to. According to a 2018 U.S. News & World Report, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.

“Let’s think about it — it’s only a day,” Bucolo said. “In a few hours it’s going to be 2020, but I’m going to feel pretty much exactly the same as I did in 2019.”

Chien said she likes celebrating with friends at the end of the year, but there’s often a lot of pressure on having a memorable time.

“This is such a wonderful, grateful problem to have, but it’s, like, trying to figure out how to best spend your New Year’s,” she said. “How do you want to leave 2019 — or whatever year you’re leaving — and how do you want to go forward? Is the night definitive of the way you’re going to move forward in 2020? You want to leave on a high note and enter into a high note.”

We have hundreds of First Night pictures on our CU photo galleries for you to browse and buy: http://cu.adirondackdailyenterprise.com.

Ruthy Ungar and her husband Mike Merenda of the Mammals perform at Harrietstown Town Hall during First Night Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley

Stand-up comedian Moody McCarthy performs Tuesday night at the Elks lodge during First Night Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

Beth Bartos, left, Theresa Hartford and others dance to the music of Alex Torres & his Latin Orchestra at the Harrietstown Town Hall during First Night Saranac Lake Tuesday. (Enterprise photo — Griffin Kelly)

Anna Tivel performs songs she wrote at Pendragon Theatre Tuesday during First Night Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)