NEPA Scene Staff

First Night Scranton ends annual downtown New Year’s Eve tradition after 16 years

First Night Scranton ends annual downtown New Year’s Eve tradition after 16 years
Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

From a press release:

The organizers of First Night Scranton have made the difficult decision to bid farewell to the event after 16 years of hosting a family-friendly celebration of art and culture on New Year’s Eve in downtown Scranton.

Scranton’s event was one of the longest-running First Night celebrations in the world. The committee is grateful to the city of Scranton, Lackawanna County, the Scranton Area Foundation, Lackawanna Heritage Valley National and State Heritage Area, Scranton Tomorrow, the local business community, artists, and volunteers who made First Night Scranton possible for more than a decade. Economic challenges, a dwindling volunteer base, and declining attendance led to the committee’s decision to end the event.

For those who have a long history with the event, such as Project Manager Paige Balitski and Event Chairman Doug Smith, the decision is bittersweet.

“We will miss the magic that First Night brought to Scranton at the start of each year. We are grateful for the opportunity to create a beautiful and innovative celebration of the arts, and we are proud of what we accomplished together,” Balitski said.

“First Night Scranton filled a void within the city, showing the community that the arts could thrive in downtown Scranton.”

Art and cultural events are now a regular part of life in the greater Scranton community. The void that once existed has been filled with the popularity of events such as First Friday, the Scranton Fringe Festival, Scranton Jazz Festival, and Arts on Fire, just to name a few.

“First Night Scranton really served as a catalyst for the thriving downtown arts events that exist today. We accomplished what we set out to do and brought thousands of people to downtown Scranton, which helped to revitalize the city,” Smith said.

The committee pursued the option of passing First Night Scranton onto another nonprofit organization, but they couldn’t find any groups willing to take on the responsibility of the largest family-friendly New Year’s Eve celebration in the region. Any organizations interested in hosting First Night should contact the mayor’s office at 570-348-4101.

“The public has spoken,” Balitski said. “And it’s time to say goodbye. We are grateful for the support First Night received over the years, and we look forward to seeing what the future brings.”