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First Night Planners Share Details with Selectmen

During a September 17 meeting, the Board of Selectmen heard details concerning a town-wide celebration to be held on New Year's Eve. First Night Upton is being coordinated by United Parish and is scheduled to take place on December 31 from 5 p.m. until midnight.

Coordinator Sharon Bliss came before the Board to provide an outline on the evening's events so far. According to Bliss, First Night Upton received a small grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council to hold a community event.

The goal of First Night Upton is to involve as many businesses as possible in town, particularly those along Route 140, as well as Memorial School and Nipmuc Regional High School. Local singers, bands, and artists will be featured at those venues participating. Crafts and other vendors will also be taking part and a comedy show has also been booked. Bliss said a number of businesses have been very supportive of the event, "while others have not been so enthusiastic."

Early evening activities will revolve around smaller children and include storytelling, clowns, and a touch a truck event. From 7 to 11 p.m., other family friendly events will take place. The goal for the 11:30 p.m. to midnight show is to ring in the New Year with a laser light show. "Unfortunately, the laser light show comes at a price of $9,000. We've reached out to over 200 companies to sponsor this light show but have not been successful," said Bliss.

Residents will purchase buttons to attend the event at a cost of $10 for adults and $5 for children in the 5th grade and younger. Prices for the buttons increase another $5 after December 23. "While it is organized by United Parish, it is 100 percent a community event," said Bliss.

Bliss confirmed she has met with Town Manager Blythe Robinson and Police Chief Michael Bradley to discuss any public safety measures needed. Robinson said she supported the idea of the evening. "I think it's a great event," she said. "It's a wonderful way to do something that is family friendly and connects people with businesses."

The Board of Selectmen gave their support to the New Year's Eve celebration. "We as a Board have tried to instill the community spirit in this town, however, we're seeing an erosion of that," said Selectman Robert Fleming. "People tend to go into their own silos. There's less sharing in neighborhoods, of activities. This kind of embraces that concept so thank you for stepping forward."

However, Fleming said his biggest concern was getting enough volunteers for event. "I would encourage you to get as many as possible, simply because the workload is going to get heavier and heavier," he said.

Bliss stated her goal was to have more activities and information in place by November 1. A website has been created to keep residents updated and can be found at www.firstnightupton.org.




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