Dusty Rhodes, founder and president of event planning company, Conventures Inc., was hired by the City of Boston to put on this year’s First Night. In a Globe puff piece, she talks about their plans for the 2017 New Year’s celebration and why it has been consolidated in Back Bay.
“What Times Square is to New York, we want Copley Square to be to Boston.”
Many waterfront businesses and residents, including those of us here at NorthEndWaterfront.com, have been wondering why there are no fireworks over Boston Harbor for the 2017 First Night celebration. Why replace fireworks that reach multiple neighborhoods to focus just on Back Bay?
Now, Conventures Inc. has fessed up … organizers want a New York, Times Square-style event, tailor made for TV. Copley is smaller than Times Square, but it will have to do. Instead of billboards, projections will be displayed on the surrounding buildings. Instead of a ball drop, there will be pyrotechnics from the roof of the Plaza Hotel (there’s one of those in NYC too).
Apparently, the problem with midnight fireworks over Boston Harbor is that they don’t do fireworks for New Year’s in New York City. I’ve talked to Conventures and multiple city officials who vaguely cite a lack of financial support despite word that the fundraising was actually quite successful for the overall event. It’s true, Conventures is doing First Night pro bono (they mention it in every other sentence). Or, you might say Conventures is making a down payment on future contracts from the City of Boston. They’ve already nailed down the Tall Ships for next year.
In one fell swoop, out the window goes the decades of tradition that made Boston the original First Night, where arts and culture were celebrated across the city and capped off with fireworks over Boston Harbor. The fireworks were enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of visitors as well as residents who live in the city. Watch this year as the TV hosts interview the Copley attendees and count the suburbanites that will have come in to Copley, all decked out in a spectacularly crowded space. The Back Bay event will be instantly labeled a “success” because it will look good on television.
The harbor fireworks have long been a First Night tradition drawing crowds to the waterfront neighborhoods of the North End, Downtown, East Boston and Seaport / South Boston. After raising money from waterfront businesses under the guise of having harbor fireworks, those funds will now be used for other First Night activities in Back Bay. The harbor fireworks have traditionally been a draw for New Year’s Eve packages at waterfront hotels, restaurants and cruise ships.
Boston was the first city to organize First Night as an alternative way to celebrate New Year’s Eve. This year’s event is a shadow of years past where arts and cultural performances would be featured throughout the city. Patrons would buy a First Night button for entry to view various displays and activities attracting participation by over a thousand artists. In 2006, an estimated one million people attended First Night events citywide including the harbor fireworks.
Although the official First Night organizer is ignoring the waterfront, some local organizations and businesses are carrying the torch. Boston Harbor Now has put forth a New Year’s Eve ice sculpture stroll along the waterfront with participation by Battery Wharf Hotel, Boston Harbor Hotel, Harbor Islands Welcome Center, Boston Public Market, Fan Pier, Envoy Hotel, Seaport Hotel, New England Aquarium, USS Constitution Museum and International Place. Faneuil Hall Marketplace is also having their Blink! Dance Party.
Tell us what you think about the cancellation of the New Year’s Eve fireworks over Boston Harbor in the poll and/or comments below.