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Mayor Menino Urges Bostonians to Celebrate Responsibly

Calls first night "one of our city's greatest traditions."

The following was sent over by the city of Boston.

Today, Mayor Thomas M. Menino held his annual First Night public safety conference, encouraging people to come to Boston to ring in the New Year during Boston's 36th Annual First Night celebration. Joined by officials from the Boston Police Department, Boston Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services and the MBTA, Mayor Menino reminded revelers to celebrate the holiday safely and encouraged people to take advantage of public transportation when traveling through the city.

“Boston’s First Night celebration is one of our city’s greatest traditions.  It’s a fun event for families and an opportunity to gather with friends and neighbors to celebrate our diverse cultures and ring in the new year,” Mayor Menino said. “I strongly encourage everyone to take advantage of all the city has to offer.”

Mayor Menino and city officials have worked with the MBTA and the First Night organization to ensure that First Night 2011 is a safe and fun experience for everyone. In addition to an increased presence of public safety personnel and services, including police and EMS, the MBTA will be free after 8 PM.

City officials reminded residents:

  • Families should designate one meeting place and phone number to use in case someone is lost – EMS will have a lost child station at the Hynes Convention Center as well as a medical aid station. There will also be a medical aid station at the Boston Common.
  • Expect traffic delays in certain parts of the city.
  • No public drinking will be tolerated.
  • Do not drink and drive.
  • Dress warm and in layers, as temperatures will drop throughout the evening.
  • Drink plenty of warm, non-alcoholic liquids.
  • Utilize the MBTA, which will be free after 8 p.m. and will run with additional service until 2:00 a.m.

First Night highlights this year include a performance by legendary soul singer Mavis Staples at Symphony Hall, a festival of International Short Films at the Museum of Fine Arts, and programs at four college-owned venues:  Berklee Performance Center, Suffolk University’s Modern Theatre, and Boston University Theatre.  In total there are just over 250 events – both indoor and outdoor – in this year's First Night celebration, including the traditional ice sculptures on the Boston Common, the grand procession through downtown Boston, and the popular FedEx Family Festival at the Hynes Convention Center.

All First Night outdoor events are free, though supported by sales of the First Night button, which is the ticket for admission to all indoor events. The buttons are $18 (children under four receive free admission) and have been available at Boston-area Shaw's and Star Markets, Tedeschi Food Shops, Au Bon Pains and dozens of other locations throughout the City.  Buttons can also be purchased online at www.firstnight.org

The annual Metro Boston Grand Procession led by Mayor Menino will begin at 5:30 p.m. at the Hynes Convention Center and will travel down Boylston Street and end at the corner of Charles and Beacon streets. The first of two fireworks shows will then begin on Boston Common starting at 6:45 p.m. to allow for young families to enjoy the First Night activities. The second show will be over Boston Harbor at midnight. 

The Boston Transportation Department is advising drivers that parking and traffic restrictions will be implemented in Downtown Boston on Saturday, December 31 due to the City’s annual First Night activities.  The use of public transportation is strongly encouraged. Those who feel the need to drive in should plan to park in off-street lots and garages.  Additional details regarding parking restrictions can be found at  http://www.cityofboston.gov/news/default.aspx?id=5423.   

First Night was started in 1976 by a group of local artists who sought an alternative to traditional New Year's Eve celebrations and has grown from a small arts event into an arts organization that showcases work by local, national and international artists.  Originally drawing crowds of about 25,000 people, in recent years First Night has attracted crowds of over 1 million people, generating nearly $47 million in revenue for businesses in the City of Boston.  The First Night concept now serves as a model for approximately 200 celebrations worldwide.

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