Three-D Fireworks, Skating Rink Draw Thousands To First Night Hartford
By JENNA CARLESSO
December 31, 2012
HARTFORD —— Spectators streamed into the city Monday to ring in the new year with ice skating, fireworks, face painting and a host of other activities.
The First Night Hartford celebration, in its 24th year, drew guests from within the city and from cities and towns throughout Connecticut.
Kim Ganong, who came out with her husband, Ed, and 2-year-old son, Logan, said she was glad to find a family-friendly way to celebrate New Year's Eve.
"We were looking for something to do with our little guy, instead of having to find a baby sitter," said Ganong, of Middletown. She said the family was planning to watch the fireworks, take a ride in a horse-drawn carriage around Bushnell Park and possibly take Logan ice skating for the first time.
Teri Deehan of Glastonbury stood alongside the ice skating rink at Bushnell Park, watching her 14-year-old daughter, Sarah, and her friend Brooklyn skate.
"They've been dying to come," Deehan said.
Dozens of people already were ice skating by early afternoon Monday.
First Night Hartford featured more than 40 different activities and performances scattered throughout downtown, including live music, a children's festival, crafts and tours, a circus workshop, fortune telling and fireworks shows.
In recent years, organizers of First Night have put a greater emphasis on Bushnell Park and its free skating rink, which was open on New Year's Eve from noon to 1 a.m. The rink, which opened for the season on Nov. 23, already has had more than 25,000 skaters, while the city's Winterfest celebration in the park has drawn more than 45,000 people.
Winterfest runs through Jan. 21.
Walking toward the park Monday, Amy Cirillo said it was the first time that her family had come to Hartford for New Year's Eve. On their agenda: Ice skating, a carousel ride and fireworks.
"We've never done it before, and we wanted to try something new," Cirillo, of Windsor, said. She said the family planned to stay in the park for most of the day.
Several locations downtown hosted activities, including the Old State House, Central Baptist Church, Hartford Public Library and city hall.
At the TD Bank on Trumbull Street, children and their parents waited in line for face painting. Toys and games were also available in the bank's lobby.
Lisa LeBon of East Hartford stood in line with her daughters Zora, 7, and Imari, 14. LeBon said the family missed face painting last year and wanted to show up early this time.
The family has attended First Night Hartford for the past five years, she said.
Sheila Novaky and her 4-year-old son, Christofer Nikolov, drove up from Norwalk to celebrate New Year's Eve in the city. Face painting was among their first stops.
"I was looking for something fun to do," Novaky said. "This was perfect."
First Night organizers said they distributed 3-D glasses to make the fireworks — held in the early evening and at midnight — even more dynamic.
The event is paid for by corporate and foundation sponsorships, said Nicole Glander, event manager with the nonprofit First Night Hartford. Sponsors include Travelers, LAZ Parking, TD Bank, Bank of America, the Greater Hartford Arts Council and the city of Hartford.
First Night drew about 20,000 on New Year's Eve 2011, Glander said. Organizers were expecting at least that number Monday.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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