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Guest Column

December 29, 2012

Oneonta's First Night is too good to miss

New Year’s Eve has been a disappointment since adulthood. No matter how many sequins are worn or glasses of champagne drank, the night never lives up to its Dick Clark-come-Ryan Seacrest hype.

Last year, as Cee Lo Green butchered “Imagine” during Rockin’ New Year’s Eve (does anyone else remember the outrage over his lyrical license?), I was falling asleep on my friends’ couch. “Oh, it’s 2012? And there’s no more shrimp? I’m out.”

But when I was younger, New Year’s Eve had a certain magic. One of the New Year’s Eves near the end of the century, when I was 13, my friends and I came into “the city” for one of Oneonta’s first First Night celebrations. It was the first time I hadn’t spent New Year’s Eve with my grandmother and parents (OK, my dad was trailing behind). It was an adventure.

We found a discarded shopping cart near the old armory and pushed each other around the neighborhood, scooting between downtown destinations. Families walking around the streets. Music being played. Fireworks. It was exciting. There was energy in the air. It was special.

This year, I’m looking forward to New Year’s Eve again, because for the first time, I’ve helped plan Oneonta’s First Night celebration as one of the board members of First Night Oneonta. This is the third year the group has organized the city’s family-friendly celebration, and it’s running like a “well-oiled machine,” as captain of the board David Hayes would say (the board really refers to him as our captain).

Hayes has been working for months securing funding for the $40,000 event, and corralling other volunteer board members to make sure all the pieces are in place for Monday.

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