NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Happy New Years Eve! First Night celebrations returned to Northampton for the first time in two years Friday night. While it did come with some last minute changes because of COVID-19, people are still able to come together.
This year, crowd sizes were a lot smaller but that doesn’t mean that the people here didn’t enjoy it. “It’s definitely less crowded than in the past but I like that. It’s been overwhelming in the past,” said Arwen Hansell of Northfield.
Small clusters of people were scattered across downtown Northampton, watching the fireworks that didn’t go off last year. This year, indoor performances were moved to virtual but that didn’t deter some to enjoy the outdoor celebrations.
Patty Larkin of Wellfleet told 22News, “We’re here for First Night no matter what it is. A lot of the events were canceled and virtual so as disappointing as that can be, we’re happy to be here.”
Cassie Tragert has lived in Northampton for three years, each one she has seen a different First Night, “Hopping to the different venues it was great and then the next year it was sad that they had to put it all online. It was still cool that they were able to do that and we watched that when that went all down. Then once we heard that we could do the outdoors thing, we were like, ‘okay, this is a happy medium.'”
With 2022 on the horizon people said there’s a few things they’re hoping to see.
“An end to COVID,” said Hansell.
“Hopefully people will figure it out and be nicer to each other,” said Tragert.
“Peace to the planet and be well,” said Larkin.
First Night can also be one of the busiest for local businesses in Northampton but due to the event being scaled back, that wasn’t necessarily the case this year. The owner of spots at Union Station like the Deck and Tunnel Bar said they had reservations for 250 people but usually this is a night when they reach capacity.
“It’s one of those hard things that I think we’re all dealing with. Trying to just maintain and we’re not making money necessarily but we’re trying not to lose it either,” said Jeremiah Micha, owner of The Deck.
Micha said most of their events are outside Friday night, using tents and live entertainment. They will be open until 2:00 a.m. at their sports bar and tunnel bar.