All year long, organizers of First Night Morris County meticulously plan to create a great New Year’s Eve in Morristown.
The only thing they can’t control is the weather.
But if rain falls on Saturday night, as the forecast predicts, it should not discourage anyone from enjoying the mid-Atlantic region’s largest First Night, said Craig Schlosser, president of First Night Morris.
“This is about experiencing things you never experienced before, opening your eyes to new things. You can go in and out of so many things,” he said, citing dozens of performances at 21 venues.
It will be Morristown’s biggest First Night since the pandemic. Last year was a hybrid presentation, and the year before was all virtual.
Saturday will feature Bollywood dances, standup comics, acrobatic dogs, a hypnotist, and music ranging from classical to classic rock to reggae.
And you need not get too wet. A half dozen free shuttle buses will connect the venues.
Or you can choose a location or two for the whole night, Schlosser said. There are seven venues at Morristown High School, three at the Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), and two at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, for example.
Anyone purchasing an admission button ($30/ $95 for four-pack) also can watch livestreams of the MPAC performances (Johnny Peers & the Muttville Comix and the John Ginty Band), as well as pre-recorded on-demand performances by other acts, and a 50-film festival, viewable until 4 pm on New Year’s Day.
First Night Chairman Walter Deutsch was optimistic that free fireworks will go off as scheduled at 9:15 pm and midnight, viewable from the Morristown Green.
“We have launched fireworks in the past in major downpours,” Deutsch said. On the bright side, “it’s not snow. It’s not zero degrees. We could be Buffalo.”
As he spoke on Friday, about a dozen interns–mostly, students from the Morris County School of Technology–were putting finishing touches on the First Night website and mobile apps. Deutsch described them as the most talented students he has worked with during his six-year tenure.
One of those volunteers, 17-year-old Collin Schlosser, has been helping his dad at First Night since he was 8. Although he’s only seen a handful of performances–Dinoman was a favorite–Collin said he likes working behind the scenes.
“I’ve been in the back so long, I find comfort in that. It’s my portion of the event that I enjoy,” he said. This weekend, he is coordinating First Night’s technology with Noelle Gemma of the Morris County Economic Development Corp.
One of the most challenging First Night assignments is screening the films to make sure they are family friendly.
“That’s the toughest thing, finding films that don’t have explicit violence, explicit drug- or alcohol use, and no smoking or cursing,” said First Night Film Fest Director Mark Boutros, who also runs a movie festival in Lake Hopatcong.
First Night selections include films from that fest, and from the Thomas Edison Film Festival. First Night volunteers screened more than 200 submissions, and this jury will announce its top picks, Boutros said.
Kid-themed performances and activities start at 4:45 pm at Morristown High School. Films start running at 6 pm, and the rest of the performances kick off at 7 pm.
Buttons can be purchased online until 3 pm; a will call desk will operate from 3:30 pm to 8 pm at the Morristown & Township Library at One Miller Road. Buttons also will be for sale at the MPAC box office, at 100 South St., said First Night Event Coordinator Samantha Rutledge.
“It will be such a fun night, bringing the community together after so many years of COVID,” Rutledge said. “Give it a go!”
MORE COVERAGE OF FIRST NIGHT MORRIS 2023
MorristownGreen.com is a proud member of the First Night Morris advisory board.
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