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Q & A

Longtime First Night volunteer loves basking in family atmosphere

Sunday, December 29, 2013
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Q & A


Giuseppe Forman, longtime First Night Saratoga volunteer, says “Every year, I’ve made a friend or two and we’re still friends today.”
Photographer: Patrick Dodson
Giuseppe Forman, longtime First Night Saratoga volunteer, says “Every year, I’ve made a friend or two and we’re still friends today.”

Giuseppe Forman loves New Year’s Eve.

He’s out early in the evening and back home shortly after midnight. Party hats, dinner buffets and champagne toasts are never part of his routine.

Forman, 65, is one of the 250-plus volunteers who make sure Saratoga Springs’ annual First Night runs smoothly. The longtime Saratoga Springs resident and business consultant loves the people he meets and places he visits on Dec. 31.

Forman is looking forward to ringing in the New Year on Tuesday night.

Q: What’s the attraction behind First Night in Saratoga Springs?

A: I’m a big fan of Saratoga Springs, because of the culture that the town has, because of the attitudes, which are a mix of Old World charm and modern technology, modern ideas and advances.

We do have some builders who are trying to turn this into Little Manhattan, but I prefer to keep it as the country town of Saratoga Springs that happens to have a race track. That’s not our only feature; we have a lot of great features. I love this town. . . . People are very friendly.

Q: How did you get involved with First Night?

A: Several years ago, I read in the paper about First Night needing volunteers. At this point in my life, I certainly don’t go out New Year’s Eve. Then, when I read First Night was a family-oriented thing and it was a non-alcohol thing, I said, “Oh, this is cool, this is wonderful.” So I volunteered and they made me a site manager, the person in charge of that location, and I absolutely loved it. My biggest joy is seeing all the people, especially the kids.

Q: How many years have you been volunteering?

A: This is my sixth year. I hope to do it the rest of my life, because I love it.

Q: What kind of performers have you seen?

A: One was a guy who played sound with glasses; of course, I bought his CD. Another was a blues guitarist, of course I bought his CD. Most of them have been folk singers and musicians. This year, I’m going to be at the library — that’s a couple singers and performers, two different ones at different times. At this age, I’ve told Kate (volunteer coordinator Kate Morse) I have to be indoors and able to sit down.

Q: Have you ever had any problems with rowdy behavior at your sites?

A: I have never seen any trouble at all. I have never seen any drunkenness or brawls. People are pretty happy. If it’s cold, they’re happy but they’re quick. I have never had to break up anything or straighten out anything. I’ve never seen disagreements. Part of it might be because there’s a lot of small kids around.

Q: Do you meet new people every New Year’s Eve?

A: I’ve made friends every year. I’ve kept phone numbers and kept in contact through email and phone numbers. Every year, I’ve made a friend or two and we’re still friends today.

There are supposed to be 250 volunteers, I don’t know if there are, to be perfectly honest with you. I hope there are, because they can sure use them. And it’s a wonderful thing. Otherwise, what are you doing that night? You’re out and about and the town has such an attitude, such a genuine feeling of generosity. How you could you walk around being ticked off or miserable?

Q: Why do you think people keep coming back?

A: I think they keep coming because it keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. We’ve got 10,000 buttons ready and I think we’re going to sell out. The night we did the button stuffing, I said to Kate the next day, “How many buttons we do?” She said, “9,000.” I go, “You had 40 people for an hour and 45 minutes and they pinned on 9,000 buttons? Who was doing all this work? It wasn’t me; I wasn’t working that fast.” But they keep coming back. I said, “Hey Kate, if you sell out, it’s a free concert, just like Woodstock.”

Q: Do you ever get a chance to see performances that might interest you?

A: Through the years, if there was something in particular I wanted to see, I would break away for 10 or 15 minutes and go see that. I wouldn’t stay for their whole performance, but we’re never gone long. I don’t roam around. I get to see enough, and it certainly makes me happy.

Q: What does your family think of your First Night volunteering?

A: I have very few family members in this town. I have a couple nieces up here. And they know me as always being somewhere or doing something, especially for somebody. So to them, for me to do this, is a perfect fit. I don’t think I’ve been out on a New Year’s Eve to celebrate and drink for probably 40 years. I don’t have the damn energy to do it. Is that the direction you want to be? I think not.

I try to drag them along, and I have in the past.

Q: Do you offer a lot of “Happy New Years!” on First Night?

A: Do I ever. I say a lot of “Buon Natale,” which is “Merry Christmas” in Italian. And I say a lot of “Happy New Years.” I wish the world the best for New Year’s. You’re talking to an old peace freak. You can understand my philosophy, I went to NYU, I just want people to get along.

 
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