Join in another wonderful First Night

A burst of fireworks is seen through trees just after midnight on New Year’s Day during First Night Saranac Lake. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

For the 14th year in a row, Saranac Lake is the place to be on New Year’s Eve. First Night Saranac Lake has a lineup loaded with musical, comedy and children’s acts, plus a presidential tribute and a curator of historic local films, all from 6 p.m. to midnight.

There are all kinds of reasons to attend:

¯ The quality of the entertainment is always excellent, and several of the acts are sure to get people up and dancing — especially Alex Torres and his Latin Orchestra from 10 p.m. to midnight at Harrietstown Town Hall.

¯ It’s a great alcohol-free way to ring in the new year surrounded by friends and neighbors — although there are plenty of establishments within walking distance where you can have a drink if you want to.

¯ There are fireworks at midnight on the shore of Lake Flower.

¯ It’s not very expensive, considering that there are 17 performers at nine venues. An admission button costs $15 in advance or $20 the day of for adults, $10 for teens and free for kids 12 and under.

¯ And as anyone who’s been to First Night here can tell you, the spirit of community fun is always strong for this event.

It’s been held in all kinds of weather, from 20 below zero to temperatures in the 50s. This year’s forecast calls for a mix of snow and freezing rain Tuesday, shifting into just snow that evening as the temperature drops below freezing.

Before First Night was founded in 2006, New Year’s Eve was pretty lame in the Tri-Lakes area. Sometimes a hotel would hold a traditional party with a steep admission fee, but that was about it. Taverns generally didn’t have live music or other special offerings. It was so slow that some restaurants would close and give their staff the night off — although there wasn’t much for those workers to do with their free time. People mostly just sat around at home and watched “Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve” on TV.

Sue Patterson and Connie Landon filled that void by establishing this festival, which began on Dec. 31, 2006. That first First Night was a home run. It was obvious that this was what people here had been waiting for.

First Night has been consistently good since then, but even better, it established a market for New Year’s Eve by showing that people will come out if you give them good stuff to do. For many years now, that night has been full of options in the private sector as well as First Night. Bars host bands of their own, encouraging people to keep dancing well past midnight, and restaurants also hire musicians to entertain their crowds of customers as they compete to offer the evening’s best dining experience. Some restaurant owners say New Year’s Eve is now one of their busiest night of the year.

Quite simply, this festival has been an excellent fit for this area, and we encourage you to come out and join in the fun Tuesday night.

For more information, check out the program (a co-production of the Enterprise and First Night) or visit www.firstnightsaranac.com.


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