What if you were planning a New Years Eve party for, oh, say 5,000 people? You might be worried about the parking. You might be worried about a blizzard. You might even be worried that the weather would turn out to be too warm — that is, if you were planning to have an ice sculpture as the affair’s visual centerpiece.
What if, in addition to these worries, you had to put this party on in Montclair, where no detail of public life is too small for ferocious debate? And what if you happened to be the town’s new arts and cultural affairs coordinator, replacing the previous art czar, the controversial Paul Ellis, whose outster this year drove a wedge through the arts community? And what if Ellis wouldn’t give up First Night’s old web address?*** Then you would basically be facing the same set of issues as Eileen Sheehan, who since August has been planning a $45,000 extravaganza for Montclair First Night (moved on the net to a dot-com address).
One can’t blame the lady for having nightmares.
On the other hand, Sheehan seems to have every chance in the world of throwing a spectacularly successful fete, especially having snagged the Big Apple Circus to Go (everything but the elephant) as the night’s top act.
***Correction: Paul Ellis writes to tell us that he’s not the one holding onto the old address.
Even before tickets went on sale last week, Sheehan said she had won enough corporate sponsorships that the event had already broken even. First Night returns to Montclair’s downtown — where it had its start in 1987– leaving the lackluster venue of Montclair High School, whose two buildings contained the event for the past several years. The Lackawanna Center Pathmark and the Montclair Art Museum have agreed to open their parking lots for revelers, and a shuttle bus will run up and down Bloomfield Ave. all night. The popular local pianist Robin Spielberg, who broke off from First Night Montclair several years ago to start a competing event, has returned.
Other features of this year’s First Night: clowns and stiltwalkers strolling downtown to add to the festive air; skateboarding demostrations, flamenco dancing, Chinese paper cutting and balloon sculptures; musical performances by Spank, Sweet Georgia Brown, Dr. Dubious and the Agnostics and New York subway violinist Lorenzo LaRoc and (get this!) roaming Starbucks baristas who fill up your cup with free coffee or hot chocolate throughout the night
Tickets for the festivities are $10/adult and $5/child without the circus; add $5 to the prices to get a circus pass. The circus will have three performances, 7:45, 8:50 and 9:55, and Sheehan recommends buying tickets early so you can get your choice. Order tickets, and get more information on the First Night Montclair website.