Saratoga gears up for premiere New Year event

First Night Saratoga is on its way to becoming a sold-out event.

First Night Saratoga has grown in 11 years to become not only the largest citywide winter event for Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County, but is also the largest New Year's Eve celebration in upstate New York. This year, it will be the sole First Night in the Capital-Saratoga District.

Capital District residents who are interested in attending this family-oriented celebration of the arts are encouraged to purchase admission buttons as early as possible to avoid potential sell-out of buttons, said event coordinator Maureen Duda.

We still have a good supply left in some places, she said, "but we're selling through those very quickly."

Duda said the YMCA of Saratoga sold 10,500 buttons last year, but ordered 14,000 this year, as theirs is the only First Night celebration left in the Capital District.

"It's sort of a guinea-pig year for us," she said.

The city of Albany is hosting an event the day before Saratoga's First Night, but that event is geared toward children, whereas First Night has attractions for adults as well.

Duda said she has noticed an increase in visitors from Albany and Troy in recent years, and chalks it up to the attractiveness of Saratoga Springs.

"I think Saratoga Springs is a dream town at any time of year, but more so, I think, at Christmas," she said.

Sue Cleary, public relations coordinator for Albany's special events department, said Albany's discontinuation of First Night had nothing to do with declining attendance. "We've been talking about changing the event for years, to a free event," she said.

First Night Saratoga buttons are available at the YMCA of Saratoga or may be purchased at area Price Chopper supermarkets, select Stewart's Shops, Adirondack Trust Co., Wilton Mall, and other locations.

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