First Night organizers seek input and assistance • St Pete Catalyst

To the primary evening or to not the primary evening? that is the query.

Organizers of Saint Petersburg’s longest-running New 12 months’s Eve celebration are searching for enter from the general public on how greatest to revive and proceed the occasion, which got here to a halt this 12 months after simply shy of three many years on.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 individuals journey downtown yearly for a first-night keep, which incorporates a big swath of the northeast space overlooking the bay, together with the websites of Strobe Park, Williams Park and the various storefronts, museums, and church buildings in between.

Hal Friedman and Leslie Curran are the longtime organizers of First Night time. Picture: Invoice de Younger.

“We’ve got 25 performers, artists, musicians, dancers, technicians, and distributors,” stated Hal Friedman, chair of the board of administrators for the nonprofit, which is a part of a nationwide First Night time franchise.

St. Pete’s occasion makes use of “Artwork in Sudden Locations” as its slogan.

“There’s at all times one thing to do,” Friedman continued. “Generally individuals complain that they can not see all the pieces they need to see. And that was the plan: give individuals sufficient to do for 4 or 5 hours on New 12 months’s Eve, throw some fireworks early so individuals can take the youngsters residence, throw Extra fireworks at midnight.

All the artists and performers are native, and so they receives a commission for his or her work. First Night time is hiring a paid Occasion Supervisor; Everybody else is a volunteer.

Based on Friedman, “The First Night time” price about $170,000 to supply. The Metropolis of St. Petersburg contributes $40,000, however takes again greater than half of the quantity earmarked for police provide and sanitation companies.

The one-of-a-kind light-up “buttons,” created by a neighborhood artist, are offered upfront for admission to the occasion. That brings in one other $40,000 or so.

The rest comes from sponsors and personal donors.

Attendance dropped final first evening, on December thirty first, 2021. The 12 months earlier than, as a result of covid, the occasion was digital.

These two pictures to the top, mixed with a lower within the variety of volunteers (lots of whom had been reluctant to work in giant crowds), a big enhance in the price of fireworks and a dearth of sponsorship cash led to the cancellation of December thirty first. , 2022 first evening.

The town of St. Petersburg stepped in with its personal bash on December 31, produced by a neighborhood firm known as Huge Metropolis Occasions, at The Pier. A metropolis spokesperson stated that “New York on the Sidewalk” was scheduled after the August announcement that “Night time One” was cancelled.

“I wandered to the pier on New 12 months’s Eve,” Friedman stated. “I handed a few our councilors, who stated the primary exercise now was standing on the road, ready for a drink. There was a DJ, a disco ball, a champagne bar, some buskers and many individuals.

“Within the Bayshore space, the parks had been empty.”

One other factor caught his consideration.

“The persona was totally different. There have been lots of people of their 30s or 40s, not quite a lot of households. There have been some children, however now children will likely be up till midnight as a result of that was the one fireworks. No children actions in any respect.” “.

Drummer first evening.

“The entire concept of ​​First Night time was a ‘celebration of the humanities,’” stated former metropolis councilwoman Leslie Curran, who co-founded St. Pete’s First Night time occasion in 1993. And since we’re an artsy city, it’s a disgrace you solely see the stereotypical champagne/fireworks. your New 12 months’s Eve relatively than incorporating the humanities. It additionally gave native artists a chance to showcase their work.”

Each Friedman and Curran surprise if St. Petersburg has grown an excessive amount of for First Night time.

“St. Pete seems like a small city, like a village,” Friedman stated. “And the primary evening was type of the fruits of that.”

Curran added, “Simply since you really feel like we have turn into a giant metropolis — and that is who we’re — does not imply you simply wipe out all these issues that gave us this manner. There’s loads of room for each.”

The occasions of the primary evening are, contractually, alcohol-free. Nonetheless, all the space’s eating places are open – and doing massive enterprise on New 12 months’s Eve. Together with these on the sidewalk.

“Persons are down there for the fireworks,” Friedman stated. “Give them one thing to do whereas they’re ready.”

Numerous first evening exhibits by Nate Carpenter and Daniela Soledad.

No matter type a doable repair the primary evening would take, the organizers imagine the “children’ evening” half — video games and actions for youngsters underneath 10, plus an early fireworks show — ought to stay the identical.

All the pieces else is, nicely, on the desk.

“We actually need to know: Do individuals need this again?” “I believe it might be good to make them free, however have the buttons if individuals simply wished to purchase them as souvenirs,” Curran stated, providing a suggestion.

She defined that there are dozens of individuals on the volunteer committee. “And it isn’t simple going out and fundraising. Particularly when you have got your personal enterprise to run, or no matter.”

Cash, maybe unsurprisingly, is a giant a part of the problem at hand. Though First Night time had main sponsors up to now, together with Tom James and Invoice Edwards, they tended to pitch in for a 12 months or two, or three, after which step apart.

Freeman stated, “Both we want $200,000 from any person, or we want $160,000 and the town to do the fireworks. Allow them to do one thing at The Pier as one of many occasions on the primary evening.”

“Possibly they may have a DJ there. As a result of the sidewalk is there—and it must be used. And that is cool.”

Share your ideas on the way forward for First Night time by emailing director Jamie McWade at

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