NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP)– The organizers of First Night Northampton have canceled all indoor in-person events for New Year’s Eve.
According to the First Night Northampton web page, the event will now be live-streamed to social media and public access TV running from noon until midnight on December 31. The fireworks display at 6:15pm from the downtown parking garage roof and ball raising at midnight at Hotel Northampton are still scheduled.
“I think I probably won’t do virtual things because I’m zoomed out but I think that there will still be things to do outside for First Night, so I’ll still come and participate in those things,” said Lauren Singer of South Hadley.
The reason for the change is the recent spike in COVID-19 cases. Northampton Health Director Merridith O’Leary made the decision with support from Mayor David Narkewicz.
“I know how much time and planning has gone into creating this signature arts event for downtown Northampton, and I share in the disappointment that this decision causes for so many, particularly the artists scheduled to perform,” said Mayor David Narkewicz. “However, due to the exponential increase of the COVID-19 omicron variant infections, public health officials have acted swiftly to cancel indoor First Night activities. This will aid in halting the rapid spread of the infection in our city, and prevent our community hospital from being overwhelmed.”
Local businesses enjoy the major economic boost First Night Brings in but understand things have to be different.
“It does seem prudent with the situation that we take a beat and do what’s safe,” said Cathie Walz, owner of Blue Marble & Little Blue.