Montclair BID plans to revive First Night celebration
By LINDA MOSS
After what will have been a six-year hiatus, First Night Montclair may be resurrected this year.
The Montclair Center Business Improvement District, known as the BID, is planning to revive the New Year's Eve celebration, the group's executive director, Israel Cronk, said on Friday.
"I am working on it," he said. “I’ve got to get through this September. I’ve got a lot of stuff going on.”
He declined to provide any details, but did say that the township won't be footing the bill.
At last count about a dozen people had responded on the BID's Facebook Page saying that they are interested in attending First Night Montclair, which would take place from 6 p.m. Dec. 31 to midnight, bringing Montclair into 2018.
“Let’s bring in the New Year with a family-friendly event to bring in the New Year!” the BID said on Facebook. “Music, fun and lots of celebration to bring in 2018! Details to follow!”
Montclair held its first First Night event in 1989, and the last one was on Dec. 31, 2011. In fall 2012 the Township Council pulled the plug on the celebration, citing financial reasons and the night's waning popularity.
In addition to ticket sales, Montclair's First Night celebrations had depended on money from the municipality, with the event sponsored by the Township Department of Recreation and Cultural Affairs, as well as private sponsors and contributors, according to Township Communications Director Katya Wowk.
First Night events are when a town or city bundles a group of family-oriented New Year’s Eve events and then offers admission to them for a single ticket price. One of the goals was to offer people alcohol-free entertainment to ring in the New Year.
First Nights started in Boston sometime in the 1970s, and then spread to other cities and states for the next decade or more. The number of First Night celebrations, particularly in New Jersey, then dramatically declined, with Morristown continuing to host one of the largest the festivities.
In October 2012 the township decided to take at least one year off from holding its First Night event, and it never returned after that. During its peak in town First Night would draw roughly 12,000 people to hear music, see theater and dance, enjoy food and then watch fireworks at midnight.
But at years' end in 2011, First Night Montclair 2012 only had about 2,000 attendees and was costing the township $20,000. In that year there were 15 entertainment events held at five venues.