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First Night pledges received by Boston

Offers of help stream into the mayor’s office

A number of businesses and individuals contacted Mayor Thomas M. Menino’s office Friday and offered money and other support to help keep First Night festivities alive on New Year’s Eve.

The offers of assistance followed the announcment by First Night Boston that it will cease operations after almost four decades because of dwindling donations and sponsorships.

“Several people have called offering financial and organizational support,” said Menino’s spokeswoman, Dot Joyce. “We’ll be meeting next week with people who have called.”

Joyce declined to identify any of the entities that stepped forward to help. On Thursday, Menino told the Globe that Boston’s celebration on New Year’s Eve would soldier on.


“We’ll have First Night in Boston,” Menino said. “If we have to take it over, we will. There’s a will, and there’s a way.”

First Night Boston is a private nonprofit that has spearheaded revelry since 1976 with fireworks, ice sculptures, a Mardi Gras-style grand parade down Boylston Street, and live performances. Each year, the event ran from 1 p.m. to midnight and included 1,000 artists participating in 200 performances and exhibits at 35 venues downtown. It was the oldest and largest festival of its kind in North America and often drew a million people, according to First Night Boston’s website.

Ten years ago, First Night drew $474,000 from corporate sponsors. Last year, sponsorships slipped to $156,000. Contributions from foundations also plunged, from $364,000 to less than $50,000, according to the organization.

First Night Boston plans to lay off its small staff and close its downtown office by the end of the month. Its downfall followed news that Boston’s July Fourth concert and fireworks show along the Charles River would no longer be nationally televised.

If Menino is successful in reviving First Night, it could be one of his last acts after two decades as mayor. He is not running for reelection, and a new mayor will be sworn in Jan 6.


Andrew Ryan can be reached at acryan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeandrewryan.