All Systems Go For ‘Special’ First Night Chatham

By: Alan Pollock

First Night 2020's limited celebration included a drive-by “Noise Parade.” First Night officials this week announced plans for many popular events to return for 2021. FILE PHOTO

CHATHAM Last New Year’s Eve, it wasn’t possible to ring in 2021 with the usual kind of revelry. But barring any resurgence of the pandemic, First Night Chatham is planning a special edition of its family-friendly New Year’s Eve bash with many favorite activities and with safety at the forefront.

Naturally, at this stage in planning, most details are yet to be worked out, but in an update posted this week, First Night Chatham’s executive committee announced that this year’s celebration is coming together and will include all the usual favorite outdoor activities, including the town photo at the lighthouse, the Carnival Caper road race sponsored by the Chatham Squire, ice carvings, the Noise Parade and the fireworks at Veterans’ Field.

The theme for this year’s event is “Special Edition,” committee spokesman John Reed said. And while it marks a comeback for one of the town’s largest events, this year’s First Night will be orchestrated with safety in mind.

“A major concern of the committee is ensuring a safe family environment, especially for our youngest participants,” Reed wrote. For that reason, all children’s activities will be held outdoors and will not require a First Night button for admission. Also, to promote social distancing, First Night is suspending the shuttle bus service for this year; for that reason, there will be no activities programmed at the middle school.

“We will continue to explore the possibility of indoor performances, food trucks, and other outdoor extras,” Reed said.

Last year, First Night was placed “on ice,” with the pandemic forcing the cancellation of most in-person activities. Still, the committee found ways to celebrate the arts, with commissioned ice sculptures installed around town, around 20 recorded musical performances live-streamed on New Year’s Eve, and even a vehicle noise parade.

Given the potential resurgence of COVID-19, First Night Chatham’s plans could be amended as the date draws nearer; updates will be posted at