In a changing city, it’s only to be expected that a high-profile civic event such as Boston’s First Night celebration will evolve over time as well. Amid organizational infighting and shrinking corporate funding, the operation behind Boston’s annual New Year’s Eve celebration recently announced it was shutting down. Mayor Menino, properly, has vowed to keep First Night alive. But in addition to preserving what should be New England’s signature year-end party, it’s also crucial that both the city and the next group of organizers figure out how to revitalize it.
Wisely, Boston’s First Night — the oldest and largest event of its kind — has never tried to compete for the throngs who head to Times Square. The event began its 37-year run as a way to attract people from across the region to what once seemed like a deeply troubled city. Millions of locals and residents now cherish memories of the grand procession down Boylston Street, ice sculptures, fireworks, and local arts performances. But as the city’s fortunes have improved, it’s entirely possible that a different mix of events could prove more successful.