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Fall River Herald News Article

Ring in 2010 with Bright Night event in Providence
see full article online with photos!

By Linda Murphy
Special to The Herald News
Posted Dec 24, 2009 @ 04:06 PM
Providence —

The lights may have gone out for this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Fall River, but the party’s still on in Providence, though its Bright Night celebration almost faced the same fate.

Saved in part by a private anonymous donor, the Bright Night festivities will be illuminated by the ever-popular Waterfire, rather than fireworks, and will feature the magical mayhem of David Garrity’s IllusionQuest for three separate shows at the R.I. Convention Center. “He’ll make your jaw drop in awe,” said Bright Night Festival Director Adam Gertsacov. “Bring an extra pair of socks because he’ll knock your socks off.”

The finale of his show features Garrity escaping from a chained table before 32 steel spikes descend from above the table. Garrity, a master illusionist whose show started at Six Flags New England, has performed the family-friendly magical act all over the United States as well as Finland and Sweden. He’s scheduled for three shows, 6 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and because Bright Night organizers are guaranteeing admission to one of the 3,000-seat shows they’re selling only 9,000 Bright Night wristbands, good for free entrance into all festival events.

Some of the events start at noon, including half-price skating at the Bank of America Skating Center in Kennedy Plaza and Gertsacov, a professional clown, P.T. Barnum impersonator and flea circus impresario will lead off the evening opening ceremony at 5 p.m. at the skating center. More than 50 different acts with more than 160 performers are planned at venues throughout the city including the Big Nazo Puppets, who will stage two all ages rock and roll puppet creature extravaganzas at The Roxy Nightclub, 79 Washington St. at 5 and 6:30 p.m.

Multiple shows from mentalist Rory Raven, sword-swallower Matt the Knife and spooky storyteller Mark Binder are on tap at AS220 Café, 95 Empire St. The Beneficent Sanctuary, 300 Weybosset St. will host jazz with Greg Abate, The Knuf Said jazz quartet and the acoustic Celtic sounds of Fishin’ With Finnegan.
The Providence Children’s Museum, 100 South St. will open at noon and will feature alternating performances by Sparky’s Puppets and Take Two Tandem Tellers: Anne-Marie Forer and Cindy Killavey through 5 p.m.
The R.I. Children’s Chorus, the Ocean State Children’s Chorus and the feminist WomanSpiritRising chorus will perform at Grace Church, 175 Mathewson St., where a candlelight service is slated at 11 p.m.

This year the festival lost all of its funding from its primary sponsor, the city of Providence but organizers have managed to raise funds through individual and business donations. Gertsacov said addition contributions are still needed to ensure payment to this year’s performers. “A lot of people are stepping up and saying, ‘how can we help’,” he said. “Businesses are giving more and the artists are giving more – that’s really exciting to see. The community has made this happen.” Funds continue to be raised through its 2010 campaign, in which they ask people to tell 10 friends to donate $20.

This isn’t the first time the Bright Night group followed the old show biz mantra, “the show must go on.” In 2003 a group of artists took over the annual New Year’s Eve event and refashioned it as Bright Night when a lack of funding threatened to cancel Providence’s First Night. “It worked out better than expected that year; we were able to pay every artist,” said Gertsacov.

To make a donation or for the full lineup of performers and venues, see the festival website at

Wristbands purchased before Dec. 25 cost $10 after that date they sell for $15 each or 4 for $50. Choice of showtime to Garrity’s act must be made at the time of purchase.
To purchase a wristband online see or call 401-621-6123. Tickets can be purchased in person at the following sites: ArtTixRI Ticket Booth 155 Westminster Street, all 16 Bank Rhode Island locations, East Side Marketplace, 165 Pitman St., Providence, OOP! Retail gift store, 220 Westminster St., Providence.


Providence Phoenix Picked us as the Editor’s Pick for December 31.

ProJo Editorial: BrighterFire Night

From the Projo Editorial Desk

Editorial: BrighterFire Night

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Recently, Mayor Cicilline announced with regret that the municipal subsidy for Bright Night — the successor to First Night — would be slashed by 75 percent. Some performances had to be cut from the schedule. Artists engaged to entertain the public on New Year’s eve would get paid less, or nothing at all.
Now comes “WaterFire Providence” with a gift that will go a long way to keep Bright Night going this year. “WaterFire” approached one of its anonymous donors with a request for a gift to be split evenly with the Bright Night organization. One donor came through big-time, giving $16,000. Anonymously.
We applaud all donors, and “WaterFire,” for their big-heartedness. As “WaterFire” celebrates its 15th anniversary — 11 flaming braziers on First Night of 1994 was the first “WaterFire” — we must not forget that it has been a boon for artists since its beginning (and restaurants, hotels and other local concerns, not to mention the city’s global reputation).
“WaterFire’s” magnanimity is the more laudable because, in spite of its huge popularity over the years, it still must beg and scrape for money to bring each lighting to the public. This year is no different. Folks who attend “WaterFire” this New Year’s eve (till 10 p.m. at Waterplace Park and till 12:20 a.m. at Memorial Park) should keep that in mind.

PROJO COVERAGE: Bright Night Has been a Bright Spot on City Scene


Ed Fitzpatrick: Bright Night has been a bright spot on city scene

01:00 AM EST on Tuesday, December 8, 2009

If we’re looking for low-cost options for this year’s Bright Night Providence, I’ll bet the White House party crashers, Tareq and Michaele Salahi, would make an appearance. (Though they might be more likely to come if they’re not invited.)
I’m guessing Sarah Palin would come to “Rogue Island” for the state’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration if we give her a chance to peddle her new book, “Going Rogue.” (My favorite part is when she misattributes a quote from American Indian activist John Wooden Legs to former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.)
And if we can work something out with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, perhaps disbarred Providence lawyer John M. Cicilline, the imprisoned brother of Mayor David N. Cicilline, could sit on a stool, play the ukulele and set off sparklers. (Sentenced to 18 months after pleading guilty to conspiring to shake down drug-dealer clients, he is scheduled to be released to a halfway house on Dec. 29, so maybe his performance could count as community service.)
Of course, I’m joking. (Everyone knows Cicilline can’t play the ukulele.)
I’m actually a big fan of Bright Night. We brought our kids downtown last year despite frigid temperatures, 8 inches of snow and 25-mph winds, and since so many people stayed home, we had great seats at the Providence College/St. John’s basketball game. We wandered over to the Convention Center to see the Nerveless Nocks Daredevil Thrill Show. And later, we saw a performer that we referred to as the “existential clown.” (She had a trombone and talked about the apocalypse.)
So I was sorry to hear that Bright Night Providence is slashing expenses and making an emergency appeal for donations. The city usually provides Bright Night with $20,000, but amid this year’s fiscal crisis, the city has committed to providing just $5,000 in city services and no cash. The festival has applied for a grant from the Providence Tourism Council, which in the past has provided $25,000 for a fireworks display. But since the festival won’t have fireworks this year, it’s unclear if it can get the grant.
I understand why the city is cutting its contribution. The state unemployment rate stands at 12.9 percent (the third-highest rate in the country). And this year the city raised property taxes even as it slashed millions of dollars from the city budget, froze wages and axed jobs.
You’d have to be an existential clown to spend $20,000 in taxpayer money on New Year’s Eve fun. Still, Bright Night does provide a civic beacon, a magnet that draws thousands of families together to see musicians, magicians, actors, dancers, singers, acrobats, clowns, puppeteers and storytellers.
So I hope businesses and everyday residents heed the call of festival director Adam G. Gertsacov, who hopes 2,010 people will donate $20 and pass on the appeal to 10 other people. (Go to
Gertsacov noted that local artists launched Bright Night Providence seven years ago after First Night Providence faltered. He said the event boosts the local economy, bringing up to 20,000 people downtown, and 90 percent of the performers come from the Rhode Island area. Most importantly, the event offers a chance to “come out and celebrate the New Year in a family-friendly way and celebrate Rhode Island’s most important cultural asset, which is its artists,” he said.
“We make people happy,” Gertsacov said. “And we don’t want the city to go dark on New Year’s Eve.”


With funding cut, Bright Night looks for donations

1:08 PM Thu, Dec 03, 2009 | Permalink
Philip Marcelo 

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Bright Night Providence, an arts-oriented festival that is billed as the state’s largest New Year’s Eve celebration, is cutting expenses and making emergency appeals for major donations after losing city funding, according to Festival Director Adam G. Gertsacov.
The city normally covers about one-third of the festival’s $120,000 to $125,000 budget, said Gertsacov. But city Director of Art, Culture and Tourism Lynne McCormack has told Gertsacov that the city will be unable to come up with its $20,000 allocation for the festival.
The Providence Tourism Council, a city board that is financed by proceeds from the hotel tax, normally contributes an additional $25,000, but the festival’s request for funding has not yet been approved, said Gertsacov.
“The mayor has been one of strongest supporters to date,” Gertsacov said Thursday. “But this year the state budget crisis has affected the city, and it is unable to provide the support it has given us in previous years. This has put the festival in peril.”
Gertsacov says the festival is still moving forward, but “cutting costs like crazy.”
It has launched a grass roots campaign to get 2,010 people to give $20 and pass on the appeal to ten other people. Gertsacov says that artists have agreed to take a pay cut in order to assure that the festival has the same number of performers as in year’s past. He says he is also making “emergency proposals to corporate donors.”
Started in 2003 by a group of local artists and performers, Bright Night Providence was the successor to the city’s long-running First Night Providence event.
Last year, it featured 150 performers at 22 downtown venues from noon to midnight, including poetry, magic, music, skating, storytelling and dancing.


Channel 10 covered our money woes.

But they didn’t mention our website–or how people can donate.

GIVE $20, TELL 10


Severe Economic Times Threaten Festival:
Bright Night Seeks Community Support
 To Keep the Lights Bright on New Year’s Eve
12/3/09 (Providence RI)
For almost half a dozen years, a group of local performers have been lighting up the Creative Capitol’s New Year’s Eve with song, dance, magic, story and excitement.

This year, though, the festival, which has drawn as many as 20,000 people to downtown Providence, has had its brush with the dark side of the economy.

“Mayor Cicilline and the city of Providence have been one of strongest supporters to date,” said Festival Director Adam G. Gertsacov. “But this year the state budget crisis has effected them, and therefore us, and the city is unable to provide the support they have given us in previous years. This has put the festival in peril.”

“The City recognizes the intrinsic value that Bright Night provides to our community. Over the past six years we have invested over 100 thousand dollars and provided extensive technical support. Bright Night provides our city’s artists with important work opportunities and our city’s residents access to arts experiences. We are committed to continuing to work with the organization but the success of Bright Night requires a committment from the entire community especially during these economic times,” said Lynne McCormack, Director of Art, Culture + Tourism.

Rather than cancel the festivities, the artists and performers of Bright Night are making the risky decision to go forward anyway. And they’re not raising the ticket prices either. Tickets will be available for $10 and $15, depending on when you buy them, just as they were last year.

“We are committed to making this an affordable festival”, says Gertsacov.

So how are they going to make up the short fall?

“We’re starting a grass roots 20/10 campaign to get 2010 people to give $20 and then tell 10 people. We’re making emergency proposals to corporate donors. And we’re cutting costs like crazy (even though we’ve already been operating on a shoestring.) And nearly every artist I’ve talked to has agreed to take a paycut in order to make sure the festival happens.”

Gertsacov adds ” It is a risky proposition, but life is about risk. And after speaking with a number of the performers, it seemed clear that this option is preferable to just letting the city go dark on New Year’s Eve”.

It’s the performers of Bright Night. who are taking the real risk, says Gertsacov. “Our contract has a disaster/bonus clause that states that if there’s a financial disaster, that the artist fee may be cut in order that everybody gets paid something.” adds Gertsacov. “Over the last six years, we’ve paid out over $35,000 in artist bonuses, and never had to invoke the disaster clause, even after last year’s snow storm. I’m hoping that we’ll be able to make it through this year too.”

“This is one of my favorite events to perform at,” said Providence author and storyteller Mark Binder, who has performed at Bright Night for the last six years. “I bring my family and get to share my work with people who are always appreciative. Maybe I won’t get paid for my work this year, but I look at it as a contribution to my community.”

To find out more about Bright Night Providence, please visit their website at

To donate to Bright Night Providence, please visit

To purchase tickets ($10 if purchased before December 24, $15 afterwards, visit or call Art-Tix 401-621-6123.


Bright Night Article in the Projo

Providence Journal did a roundup of New Year’s Eve Festivals in the area– Bright Night, Newport, Westerly, and Fall River.

Got everything mostly right, (spelled Marvin Novogrodski’s name with a Y and at one point called our festival wristbands “First Night wristbands”)

At least they didn’t publish my home phone number (as they did one year!)

The article in the paper had some great photos of the event from previous years, some that I’d never seen before. And featured a lot of our performers. Definitely worth picking up. Photographs of vendors, of Chris Carbone, Davey the Clown, Keith Munslow, Bill Harley, and the Banished Fools.

To make it easier to forward, I created a tinyurl of the article:

Feel free to forward the url to your friends!

Remember, the discount for tickets ($10 instead of $15 ends on Tuesday!)


Fewer stars and fireworks, but New Year celebrations will go on

01:00 AM EST on Sunday, December 28, 2008

By Richard Salit

Journal Staff Writer

Performers converged Tuesday on Providence City Hall for the mayor’s announcement of Bright Night festivities. Among them, Big Nazo, Snow Queen (Clare Vadeboncoeur), Mark Kohler and Marvelous Marvin Novogrodsky. In front is Bright Night director Adam Gertsacov.

The Providence Journal / Sandor Bodo

The Scrooge-like economy may be forcing some communities to scale back their New Year’s Eve celebrations, but revelers in Providence, Newport, Fall River and Westerly will still be treated to everything from fireworks to the Friars, music to magicians and storytellers to sword swallowers.

Budget shortages threatened to snuff out Newport’s annual pyrotechnics display and the rest of the City-by-the-Sea’s celebration, but First Night Newport survived and will go off as planned, complete with fireworks over the harbor.

While Bright Night Providence had to cancel its fireworks — out of safety concerns, not financial problems — the city will replace it with a laser show. In addition, for the second year in a row, the festival has teamed up with the Providence College Friars men’s basketball squad, which will be playing Big East rival St. John’s University at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center during Bright Night festivities.

“The big thing is for everyone to gather together and ring in the New Year right,” said Adam Gertsacov, director of Bright Night Providence, the artist-run, nonprofit group that has organized the New Year’s Eve celebration in the capital city for the past six years.

While Bright Night’s budget this year is “slightly smaller,” Gertsacov said it will still feature close to 160 performers in 22 venues.

“The big focus of our event has always been the performers. We want to celebrate Rhode Island’s most important asset — its performers,” Gertsacov said.

Every year, Bright Night selects a different act to take center stage in the event. This year, the featured group is the Nerveless Nocks, a family of daredevil circus acrobats. The ninth generation family, which was formed in Switzerland and used to perform during the summers at the now-defunct Rocky Point Amusement Park, will give three shows at Rhode Island Convention Center.

In one act, Michelangelo Nock will climb a 20-foot-tall tower of chairs and do handstands on top. The troupe will also use a pendulum to perform leaps and somersaults.

“You definitely don’t want to miss this, but you definitely don’t want to try it at home,” said Gertsacov. “These guys are courageous and virtuosos at what they do. They’ve performed for kings and queens, on television and for the Super Bowl.”

Admission to the Nerveless Nocks is guaranteed with the purchase of a First Night wristband, which designates which of the three shows, either 6, 8 or 10 p.m., its holder may attend.

Wristbands, which provide free admission to all of the Bright Night venues, cost $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the event (when a family four-pack may be purchased for $50). They are for sale at BankRI locations, OOP! Stores, the East Side Marketplace and ArtTixRI, 155 Westminster St. They may also be bought online at or by calling (401) 621-6123.

The first 3,000 people with wristbands to go to the Dunkin’ Donuts center will get free tickets to see the Friars game. Tip-off is at 4 p.m.

Like the fireworks display (which fire officials said could not continue for lack of a safe location to shoot them off), the laser show will begin at midnight. It will last nearly 20 minutes and feature music.

“That’s one thing we were never able to do with the fireworks was coordinate sound and music,” Gertsacov said.

Among the other performers are the Big Nazo Puppets, bebop artist Greg Abate and Grammy winning storyteller and singer Bill Harley.

In Newport, the grand event of the family-oriented New Year festivities is a fireworks display that you don’t have to wait until midnight to see. The pyrotechnics begin at 9:15, shortly after a parade from Thompson Middle School, on Broadway, ends at the harbor.

The Brazilian Capoeira Dancers will give three 45-minute shows––at 6, 7 and 8 p.m.—in the cafeteria of the middle school. Downstairs, in the gym, there will also be face painting, balloon sculpture, a kids bounce and slide, a clown, a magician and dancing for kids.

Next door, at City Hall, folk performers will turn the council chambers into a concert venue featuring Ed McGuirl and Mike Fischmen, The Remnants and Leroy White. Bluegrass music will be played live at the Florence Murray Judicial Complex.

Other venues include the Newport Marriott, the Gateway Visitors Center, and the Jane Pickens Theater.

Buttons cost $10 and may be purchased online at Children under age 5 may enter venues at no charge. Buttons may also be purchased at the Gateway Visitors Center and the Music Box, 160 Thames St., in Jamestown at Baker’s Pharmacy, in Portsmouth at Clements’ Marketplace and in Middletown at AAA of Southern New England.

Fireworks will also be shot off as part of First Night Westerly. In the past, there would be one pyrotechnics display early in the evening and one at midnight. This year, however, there will be just one show, at 9 p.m., a time meant to accommodate families, and that will conclude the evening.

“It’s a simpler event,” said organizer Ray Jones, pastor of the Lighthouse Community Baptist Church. “Basically what we did was we looked at the economy and we looked at our community and we just decided we were going to tailor our event to young families and just make it really cost-effective.”

Last year for example, American Idol contestant Chris Sligh First Night Westerly. This year, there will be no such headliner and there will be fewer venues for a shorter period of time. The price is $5, down from $13 last year.

But children’s activities will abound. At the library and YMCA, there will be arts and crafts, a mime, face painting and inflatable toys, while teen activities will take place at the Armory. Jazz and big band drummer Bobby Selvidio will perform on High Street. The best place to watch the fireworks will be from the YMCA parking lot, Jones said.

“It’s a nice wholesome time for people with their kids and teens. What our event is tailored around is providing a substance-free New Year’s Eve,” he said.

Buttons for First Night Westerly may be purchased on the day of the event at theYMCA or in advance at NewportFed and Washington Trust. For more information, go to

Fall River also has downsized its celebration. The city announced that it would not be able to finance another First Night Fall River, but then community activists stepped up and produced a more modest replacement event, which they have dubbed “Back to Main Street: New Year’s Eve in the Neighborhood.”

“It’s an old-fashioned block party,” said Patrice Cloutier, the city’s director of cultural development and tourism, who with businessman Jerry Donovan, led the effort to rescue Fall River’s celebration .

The event, as always, will be free. It will feature horse and carriage rides as well as trolley tours, in addition to a variety of street performers, including jugglers and stilt walkers. A children’s venue, with arts and crafts, will be set up in a vacant storefront at 25 North Main St.

One of the highlights of the event will be a 7:30 p.m. performance by the Chinese Folk Troupe at the Eagle Performing Arts Center, 33 North Main St. There will be a dragon dance, a lion dance, umbrella dancing and drumming, said Cloutier. Seating for the nearly 1 ½-hour performance will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Bonaparte, a Boston magician, will take the stage afterward.

In the past, Fall River would bring in the New Year with the dropping of a ball from the Armory. This year, with the events taking place in just a one-block area, the ball will be dropped at midnight from Government Center.

“It’s really a community event put together with a lot of heart and private donations,” Cloutier said. “It really brings you back to Main Street. It’s about quality and simplicity at the same time.”

For more information, go to

Featured in the Metrowest papers

Along with First Night Worcester & First Night Boston, we are mentioned. I think our line-up of artists compares very favorably to both of the other festivals.

New Year’s Eve: A Festivity Trifecta

Loading multimedia…

Fireworks display is part of First Night Boston.

More related photos

FirstNight_Monkeyhouse.jpg Sylvia Magic Trunk SnowQueen.jpg

By Chris Bergeron/Daily News Staff and Jody Feinberg/Gatehouse News Service
GateHouse News Service
Posted Dec 25, 2008 @ 10:00 AM


MetroWesters looking for New Year’s Eve fun can choose from three distinct choices to welcome 2009, all less than an hour’s drive away.

First Night Boston 2009, the granddaddy of all New Year’s festivals, is throwing the biggest bash of all with arts and activities spread across Bean Town.

With size come innovative opportunities, hot acts and complications, including parking hassles, packed public transportation and crowds reminiscent of Shanghai.

Throwing its 27th party, First Night Worcester 2009 provides accessible and varied family fun.
Rising to the challenge after economic woes ended First Night activities in Providence, area artists have been throwing their own party called Bright Night Providence since 2003.

Intimate, eclectic and an obvious labor of love, this festival provides a perfect example of committed artists sharing their passion with the public.
You can’t lose with this trifecta.

WORCESTER: Just up the Pike:
Just a short hop from MetroWest, First Night Worcester 2009 lets revelers greet the New Year with a mixed bag of arts activities from a multicultural Global Village to indoor kite flying, from comedian Casey Carle’s soapy “Bubblemania” to two Á count ’em Á fireworks displays.

Executive Director Joyce Kressler promised, “We’ve got something for everybody, for every taste and for every interest.

“Every year we make sure 80 percent of our performances and activities are new so nobody can say `I’m not going. I saw that last year,” she said. “This year we’ve got probably more than 500 artists and performers participating in about 120 acts and activities at 20 venues.”

While most events take place at indoor venues clustered around downtown Main Street, Kressler said several first-time sites like the New Hanover Theatre near the center and off-site events at Mass. College of Pharmacy, Worcester Craft Center and the EcoTarium provide more seats and larger stages for new performances.

Worcester’s First Night is an affiliate of the nonprofit group which organized the first such festival in Boston in 1976 for the bicentennial. Kressler said the Worcester group “was born in 1981 for 1982.”{ is hosting its 27th First Night this week.-said this in intro}
“Each First Night is like a snowflake,” she said. “At first they look alike but under a microscope, each is different in its own special way.”

Events kick off at 3 p.m. with a scavenger hunt, music, magic, storytelling and more at several sites and concludes from 11:30 p.m. to midnight with a Nipmuk Unity Circle and fireworks at Lincoln Square.

Over the last several years, Kressler said, attendance has been “good and pretty stable” ranging between 30,000 and 40,000 annually.

Visitors can attend any event, providing there’s room, by purchasing a First Night Worcester 2009 button. Buttons sold for $10 before Christmas, and are $12 until Dec. 31 and $15 at the gate. Children under 10 are free. If a group purchases more than 50 buttons in advance, the price is reduced to $8 for each.

To see the schedule for First Night Worcester 2009, visit

BOSTON: The first and fabulous First Night

First Night Boston is thriving, offering even more events this year than last.

The arts celebration promises not just a good time, but a way to enjoy the city’s music, theater, dance and cultural destinations for less money. That’s because the $18 First Night Button offers entry to scores of performances, not just on New Year’s Eve, but during the afternoon of Dec. 31 and through January.

“People come and do the free stuff, but I don’t think a lot of them understand what the button is,” said Geri Guardino, executive director of the 33rd First Night. “It’s really a great value not just for the night. There’s more programming this year in the afternoon, and if you hold onto the button, you get a lot of benefits.”

As in past years, the button gives you access to performances by the city’s leading arts groups, as well as cutting edge talent from afar. It’s a massive undertaking by a staff who work year-round turning a budget of about $1.3 million and in kind contributions of about $850,000 into a celebration that attracts about 1 million people.

“We’re expecting a good crowd, maybe bigger than usual,” Guardino said.

Traditionally, the afternoon programming has been for children, with a Family Festival packed with stunt teams, magicians, puppeteers, singers and more. This year, there’s also a non-stop lineup of classical and jazz singers and musicians at St. Paul’s Cathedral and music at The Mary Baker Eddy Library. A festival of short international films runs all afternoon at the Museum of Fine Arts. And free admission is available all day to the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Mapparium at the Mary Baker Eddy Library, and in the morning to the New England Aquarium.

But First Night goes into full gear in the evening, starting with the Grand Procession, where giant puppets, festive bands, colorful floats and hundreds of costumed revelers parade down Boylston Street.

Commonwealth Shakespeare, Opera Boston and the dance company Monkeyhouse are among the local performers. A highlight is the jazz phenomenon Hiromi and her group, Sonicbloom. Her concert, which includes students and alumni from Berklee College of Music, will be broadcast live nationwide by WGBH radio as part of National Public Radio’s new year’s celebration, “A Toast to the Nation,” a first for First Night.

“She is just such fun to watch and has fabulous musicians playing with her,” Guardino said. “She’s renowned, and it’s very exciting for us that it will be broadcast live across the nation.”

Guardino also is looking forward to sound artist Sxip Shirey, who has performed at Symphony Hall.

“Sxip sets up a landscape of sound and visuals that’s really cool and a bit like performance art,” Guardino said. “It’s fun for us to have some fringe stuff.”

Guitar buffs may want to catch the West African guitarist and drummer Mamaou Diop, who blends samba, salsa and reggae with Senegalese rhythms, and the Nashville group Scissormen, who play slide guitar blues.

You can find the humor in tough times when comedians Tony V and Kenny Rogerson take on the economy in “700 Billion Laughs: A Bailout of Humor From Some Serious Stupidity.” And be part of the humor in the sketches of ImprovBoston and Improv Asylum.

Of course, New Year’s Eve is a party and you can celebrate by dancing with the Fulani Haynes and the Jazz Collaborative or the Swingin’ Eve Dance Party with Marie Lawlor, who instructs at the top of each set.

Even without a button, there’s plenty of opportunity to dance. Two high-energy bands, Downbeat 5 and Black Taxi, play on Boston Common, and DJs host a dance party in Copley Square with a laser and light show. Take a break from dancing, and admire the massive ice sculptures on the Common and in Copley Square.

A short round of fireworks starts at 7 p.m. over Boston Common, and the midnight grand finale is over the waterfront. For the first time, you can see the fireworks from a harbor cruise, part of First Night’s new collaboration with the Boston Harbor Association. During the day on the waterfront, you also can tour pilot, fire and Coast Guard boats and ride the trolley from Christopher Columbus Park to the Boston Children’s Museum and the ICA.

“The waterfront is a great part of town, and we want to send people down there and use more of the city,” Guardino said.

On New Year’s Day, the button gives free admission to a child to the Boston Children’s Museum. Through January, you can bring a child to the New England Aquarium for free, receive a 30 percent discount to the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and get $10 off each ticket to “The Seagull” at the American Repertory Theatre. And that’s just a sample.
“We want to give value to the First Night button,” she said.

First Night Boston buttons are $18 at Shaw’s and other outlets and at First Night. Children under age 4 are free. Complete schedules and descriptions can be downloaded. For more information, go to

PROVIDENCE: Let there be `Bright Night’
Facing the prospect of New Year’s Eve without a citywide celebration, Rhode Island artists created their own festival — Bright Night Providence.

Since 2003 about 100 artists, led by Adam Gertsacov, have combined their talents and passions to organize a new “family-friendly tradition” offering arts and activities at 22 venues within walking distance of downtown Providence.

More than 150 performers will be brightening this year’s last night with an eclectic mix of dance and music, martial arts and an international circus act, and ending with an 11:45 p.m. laser show at Kennedy Plaza.

Talk about a potpourri! From noon to midnight, visitors can enjoy an improvisational accordionist, the larger-than-life-sized puppets of Big Nazo, Grammy award-winning storyteller Bill Harley, slam poetry, Clare Vadeboncoeur’s “Snow Queen” and lots more.
For a bouncy first time event, the “first 3,000 people” at the door can watch the Providence College Friars play Saint John’s College.

“When First Night Providence canceled for financial reasons, local artists got together and decided `Instead of a dark night, we’ll give the public a bright night,” said Gertsacov, P.T. Barnum impersonator, flea circus impresario, and Clown Laureate of Greenbelt, Md., when he’s not Festival Director for Bright Night.

Preparing for his sixth festival, Gertsacov said organizers don’t exclude any Rhode Island artists but tend to hire performers from the capital area. To balance the emphasis on homegrown talent, he said, each year the show features “one big out-of-town act” with major name recognition.

For this year’s showcase performance, the Nerveless Nocks Daredevil Thrill Show will give 6, 8 and 10 p.m. shows at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Billed as the “world’s greatest stuntman,” family patriarch Michaelangelo Nock will thrill the audience performing daredevil stunts on the Wheel of Destiny, Aerial Fabric and Tower of Chairs.

Late night owls can choose between a 10 p.m. Swing Dance Blues Bash at the Beneficent Roundtop Center or an 11 p.m. candlelight service of holy communion at Grace Church.
While exact figures aren’t available, Gertsacov said attendance has been rising over the last several years to an estimated 20,000 visitors annually.

Rather than using buttons, Bright Night Providence uses wristbands for admission to all venues, space allowing. Wristbands cost $10 when purchased in advance and $15 at the event. A family 4-pack sells for $50.

“Times are tough because of the economy. But so far, so great,” said Gertsacov. “We’ve got some things in common with other First Nights but we’ve got our own special things. Bright Night Providence is about local artists saving a festival for Providence.”
To see the schedule for Bright Night Providence, visit

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After the press conference, projo blogged about us:

Bright Night organizers unveil New Year’s Eve events

11:58 AM Tue, Dec 23, 2008 | Permalink

By Richard Salit
Journal staff writer

PROVIDENCE — Since the city hadn’t levied a new tax on costumes, there had to be another reason for the boisterous gathering at City Hall of the Snow Queen, Casey Jones and several Big Nazo characters

And indeed there was.

The group assembled inside on the grand staircase to publicize Bright Night Providence, the sixth annual New Year’s Eve celebration put on in the Capitol City by a non-profit, artist-run organization. Still, it was hard to keep the rowdy characters focused on that.

“Many politicians have thrown themselves under my train,” quipped the Casey Jones character getting caught up in the City Hall scene.

This year’s event replaces fireworks with a midnight laser show, headlines an acrobatic act called the Nerveless Nocks and features 160 performers at 22 venues. It also incorporates a Providence Friars basketball game at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. The first 3,000 people with Bright Night wristbands may enter the game versus St. John’s University for free.

Tickets to Bright Night are $10 in advance, $15 on the day of the event (when a family four-pack may be purchased for $50). Tickets are on sale online at, by calling (401) 621-6123 or by visiting ArtTixRI, on Westminster Street, any BankRI location, all OOP! locations and the East Side Marketplace.

For more information, including the schedule of Bright Night events, visit