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Saratoga Springs to host 12th annual First Night

Saratoga Springs will host its 12th annual First Night celebration tonight.

The event offer something for singles, couples and families,

For the 10th year, the evening will begin with a 5-kilometer run through Saratoga Springs.

It's a family affair, said Jeffery Allen, who has coordinated the run for the past decade. "Parent, kids"they all run together. How many times do families get to run together, under the stars with 1,000 other people? "

Registration for the run can be completed at www.ymcasaratoga.org. There is an entry fee of $20.

Events at First Night Saratoga begin at 6 p.m. and end with fireworks at midnight. Admission buttons to all events are $13, but Event Coordinator Maureen Duda said the price is worth attending the largest First Night celebration in the state and "the biggest New Year's celebration outside of Times Square."

Buses will be on hand for this year's First Night Saratoga to take what is expected to be the festival's largest crowd " close to 14,000, Duda estimates " to expanded venues.

First Night Saratoga has expanded beyond the city center and First Night coordinators have partnered with CDTA. Buses will run every 15 minutes on seven routes around the city and to new venues that include the YMCA of Saratoga, the Saratoga Springs High School, and the National Museum of Dance.

"Park at the YMCA, park at the high school, hop on a bus and it'll take you anywhere you want to go," Duda said.

All bus service will be free from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m., but officials said if there is a need for transportation after that time, they'll stick around.

Performers will be located up and down Broadway, down Lake Avenue, and along many side streets. This year, more than 400 artists will perform at 35 venues. Musical artists represent an array of styles, including pop, orchestral, country and opera. The Celtic rock-band Seven Nations will be headlining what Duda calls an "Irish extravaganza" in the Saratoga Springs City Center.

This year's First Night Saratoga theme is "Paint the Town," and the event will host many local artists and give revelers the opportunity to "paint the town with their wishes" by writing them on a wall-sized board in front of the Saratoga Springs City Center.

For information on First Night Saratoga, or to volunteer, call 583-9622, ext. 134, or visit www.ymcasaratoga.org.

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