After presenting a family-friendly, alcohol-free celebration of the arts on New Year’s Eve for twenty consecutive years, the organizers of First Night Haddonfield have decided to take a bow and retire.
There will be no First Night celebration in Haddonfield on December 31 this year, but we are looking at other ways for folks from Haddonfield and throughout the region to welcome the new year.
The first First Night was in Boston on December 31, 1975. It was designed to provide ways for the city’s young, innovative artists and musicians to celebrate the arrival of the new year on both indoor and outdoor stages. The organizers also wanted to avoid the emphasis on alcohol that is all too common at New Year’s Eve parties.
In the years that followed, some nearby communities started their own First Night events and by 2000 there were more than 250 official First Night celebrations in the United States and around the world. But post-9/11 jitters and the recession that began in late 2007 resulted in many First Nights being scaled back or canceled.
Haddonfield’s first First Night was December 31, 1999. All 5,000 admission buttons for the event were sold by December 29. Some who missed out placed notices on bulletin boards around the town, offering to pay a premium for buttons. The “millennium” celebration on December 31, 2000 was even bigger. An additional 2,000 buttons were made available, and again the event was sold out. Fireworks on Kings Highway were introduced in 2001, with shows at 9pm (the children’s countdown) and midnight.
What made First Night work so well in Haddonfield?There are a number of reasons.
Since the one constant in life is change, events such as First Night must change with the times. We do not yet know what might come next – stay tuned!
On behalf of the Haddonfield Cultural Events Commission and the members of the First Night Steering Committee, I extend my heartfelt thanks to all of the sponsors, venues, performers, municipal departments, and First Nighters from near and far who helped make our twenty New Year’s Eve celebrations so successful and so much fun. We wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2019!