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New Year’s Eve Celebrations 2008-2009: Morris County NJ Continues the First Night Tradition

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Twenty years ago, during my first holiday season after graduating from college, I went up to Boston to visit one of my best high school girlfriends, Grey Hound, and learned about Boston’s tradition for celebrating New Year’s Eve.  Even though it is technically the last night of the old year, Bostonians call their celebration “First Night.”  First Night is an outdoor artistic and cultural celebration on New Year’s Eve, taking place from afternoon until midnight.  The event celebrates a community’s local culture, often featuring music, dance, comedy, art, and always has plenty of food, fireworks, and ice sculptures. Most entertainment is freely available outside, but admission to indoor events requires the simple purchase of a First Night button, whose profits support the celebration as a whole. First Night celebrations are generally alcohol free.  The First Night tradition was started in Boston in 1976 by a small group of artists, and its popularity quickly made it an annual event. Soon other surrounding communities started their own First Night celebrations. In 1993, First Night International (click here to find the First Night celebration closest to you) became a non-profit organization dedicated to helping other cities set up their own celebrations. It has since spread to cities all over the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and New Zealand.

This year marks our family’s sixth New Year’s Eve celebration in New Jersey, and Rex and I have always taken the girls out for an early dinner — Opah Grill in Peapack-Gladstone, Pierre’s in Harding Township, Plucky’s Tavern at the Pluckemin Inn in Pluckemin — and end up back at home, playing board games, making popcorn, and watching the ball drop in Times Square on TV.  For the first time, London and Maddie seem to be about the right age for us to consider the First Night Morris County event on the Green in Morristown, New Jersey.  I’m going to outline some of the kid-friendly events and performers here as we make our plans, and I would love to hear from anyone who has attended Morristown’s First Night celebration in past years.

Kid Friendly Events and Performers at First Night Morris County 2008-2009:

Harlem Wizards, 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Morristown High School Main Gym, 50 Early Street (200 seats):

Transformation Face Painting, 7:00pm - 9:00pm, Morristown High School Cafeteria, 50 Early Street (50-70 seats):

Kit’s Interactive Theatre, 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Morristown/Morris Township Library, 1 Miller Road (80 seats):

Will Shaw, 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Presbyterian Parish House - Upstairs, 65 South Street (300 seats):

Mr. Fish’s Science of Magic, 10:00pm and 11:00pm, Presbyterian Parish House - Upstairs, 65 South Street (300 seats):

Meet the Musicians (Bach), 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Church of the Redeemer Parish House, 36 South Street (250 seats):

Children’s Fun Festival, 7:00pm - Midnight, Masonic Temple Downstairs, 39 Maple Avenue (150 seats):

Musical History of New Jersey, 7:00pm, Presbyterian Church on the Green, 57 Park Place (700 seats):

Kenneth Little Hawk, 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Freeholders Room at the County Administration and Records Building, Court Street (175 seats):

Big Jeff and Mr. Kleiner, 10:00pm and 11:00pm, Freeholders Room at the County Administration and Records Building, Court Street (175 seats):

StarFish (Rock ‘n’ Roll for Kids), 7:00pm and 8:00pm, Hyatt Morristown Terrace Ballroom, 3 Speedwell Avenue (450 seats):

Fireworks on the Green at 9:00pm and Midnight

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