First Night needs funding

Money for fireworks cut from county budget

— Organizers of Saratoga’s First Night celebration held each year on New Year’s Eve may now need to find funding for its biggest attraction, the annual fireworks display.

As in years past, the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors had originally set aside the funds for the display that locally rings in the New Year. But at a County workshop in November it was proposed all of the fireworks money be cut from the budget as a cost saving measure.

Joel Reed, executive director of Saratoga Arts, which hosts the event, said the timing of the decision was unfortunate.

“It has already been put in print thanking the county for the donation,” said Reed. “And with only a few weeks to go, I don’t think it will be possible for us to find another single sponsor in time to donate the fireworks, but maybe we can find several businesses willing to chip in.”

Reed said either way the fireworks display will happen because attendees expect them as the grand finale of the night, even if the art’s organization has to pay for it themselves. If that is the case, Reed said it will only take away the organization’s ability to support and develop arts programming for Saratoga County throughout the year.

“It’s an awkward position we find ourselves in right now because of the lateness of the proposal, but we understand the County has tough decisions to make,” he said. “They may look frivolous to some, but if you look at the [night’s] programming as a whole and the impact of putting these shows on to support local art, I think they’re worth it.”

This is the second year Saratoga Arts will host the annual event, which was previously put on by the Saratoga YMCA. The First Night celebration is now in its 16th year, with this year’s theme titled “Art Unleashed.”

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