Business community chips in, First Night fireworks back on
SARATOGA SPRINGS First Night Saratoga, which was going to break with tradition and not have fireworks this New Year’s Eve, will have fireworks after all, local officials announced Thursday.
A large, high-tech laser show had been planned inside the main hall of Saratoga Springs City Center instead of the traditional outdoor fireworks at midnight.
But over the past two days, the city’s business community joined forces to make sure there will be a full outdoor fireworks display in Congress Park as city residents welcome in 2013.
“Sonny [Bonacio] led the effort,” said Todd Shimkus, president of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce.
The laser show will still be held in the City Center at various times throughout the evening of Dec. 31.
At this week’s City Council meeting, city Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen said staff shortages on the Police Department made it difficult to staff an outdoor fireworks venue on New Year’s Eve this year. At that time he said fireworks at midnight were not “feasible.” But on Thursday he thanked Sonny Bonacio for his assistance, both financial and logistical, that has alleviated much of the manpower strain that was the Police Department’s original concern.
Bonacio has agreed to provide equipment and materials, as well as security measures, to make sure Congress Park is closed off to the public during the fireworks display by Alonzo Fireworks, Mathiesen said.
In addition to Sonny and Julie Bonacio of Bonacio Construction of Saratoga Springs, others underwriting the fireworks include the Wait family, the Dake family, Ron and Michele Riggi, and the Caroline Street Association, led by John Baker of Gaffney’s, according to a statement from Saratoga Arts, the organization that coordinates and stages First Night Saratoga.
“Together they raised the money required for all the expenses related to presenting fireworks, and Public Safety then found a way to resolve its staffing problems,” according to the Saratoga Arts statement.
First Night patrons can watch the last laser show at the City Center at 11:40 p.m. Dec. 31 and then gather on Spring Street near the carousel for the countdown to 2013 and the fireworks display.
This year’s countdown will be accompanied by two bagpipe players from the Tartan Terrors, and the Transiberian Orchestra’s guitar virtuoso, Mike Campese, who has composed a new arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne” for this event.
“There’s no New Year’s without a countdown, and there’s no countdown without fireworks,” said Saratoga Arts Executive Director Joel Reed. “The way this has unfolded also reminds us that there’s no First Night Saratoga without generous support from the community. Saratoga Arts is extremely grateful to the community leaders who worked together to make this possible.”