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Goodbye, waterfront fireworks: New Year’s festivities in Copley are here to stay

Th pyrotechnics illuminated Trinity Church<span class="@notes">cq</span>, the Boston Public Library<span class="@notes">cq</span>, Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel<span class="@notes">cq</span>, and parts of the Old South Church.ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

Two years after taking over Boston’s New Year’s celebrations, organizers said Tuesday that the midnight pyrotechnics, light, and sound show in Copley Squarecq is here to stay.

Conventures Inc.cq, which produced the two-day festival, shelved the traditional fireworks over Boston Harborcq this year because of lackluster fund-raising and a desire to keep the events clustered around Copley Square, said Dusty Rhodescq, the company president.

“It made no sense to drive our audience away,” Rhodes said in a telephone interview. “The key is to keep everything focused on Copley Square.”

Turnout Saturdaycq and Sundaycq for “First Night First Daycq” was a little better than last year, when about 300,000cq spectators gathered over two days, she said.


Harbor fireworks were presented in 2015-16, but organizers also debuted the pyrotechnics in Copley Square. This year’s display combined pyrotechnics with a sound and light show that illuminated Trinity Churchcq, the Boston Public Librarycq, Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotelcq, and some of Old South Churchcq, Rhodes said.

At about $160,000cq, the pyrotechnics, lights, and sounds are more expensive than harbor fireworks, which cost $50,000cq to $60,000cq, Rhodes said. But a fund-raising appeal for fireworks among waterfront businesses fell short, she said, and the pyrotechnics kept revelers in the Back Bay. The 7 p.m.cq A separate fireworks display on Boston Commoncq, sponsored by the Mugar Foundationcq, went off as scheduled.

The end of harbor fireworks disappointed some.

Mary McGeecq, president of the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Associationcq, said neighbors used to empty their homes to watch the fireworks.

“The fireworks were so accessible to everyone before when they were on the waterfront,” she said. “It really wasn’t an attractive option to go and be crowded into Copley.”

City Councilor Salvatore LaMattinacq, whose district includes the North End, said he fielded a handful of complaints about the change. From a security perspective, he said, holding the midnight display in Copley Square makes sense.


“It’s kind of a disappointment because people look forward it,” LaMattina said. “I understand they’re trying to confine it to one area.”

Concentrating the event in Copley Square also has some drawbacks.

Vicki Smithcq, chairman of the Neighborhood Association of the Back Baycq, said the area was covered in trash and mud after the celebration.

“The neighborhood took a real beating in terms of litter and debris,” she said. “I think it would be a better idea if they spread it out throughout the city. It’s tough to have it in one area.”

Organizers raised just under $400,000cq for this year’s event, and Conventures, which does the work pro bono, chipped in $25,000cq, Rhodes said.

More than $100,000cq was raised from the Highland Street Foundationcq, City of Boston Credit Unioncq, and Plumbers and Gasfitters Local 12 Bostoncq, she said.

For next year, Rhodes said she’d like to find more sponsors and raise more than $500,000cq to add ice sculptures, increase the number of performers in the “People’s Processioncq,” and present puppet shows in a larger venue.

The city provides police officers, prepares the venues, and does cleanup work, she said.

New Year’s celebrations in Boston have endured a number of changes since 2013, when the nonprofit that organized the party for nearly four decades shuttered. closed down. After that, The city ran the festival for twocq years, after which Mayor Martin J. Walshcq appealed to private companies to take it over in 2015cq.


Rhodes said that Conventures doesn’t have a contract for next year’s event, but that she expects the city to continue with the company.

In a statement, the city thanked Conventures for a successful celebration, but declined to say whether the firm would return in 2017-18.

Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.