First Night Boston Gears Up

After nearly getting shut down in 2013, backers promise a bigger and better than ever New Year's Eve celebration

Eighteen months after a near-death experience, Boston's First Night celebration organizers were kicking preparations into high gear Monday afternoon, including ice sculptor Donald Chapelle finally getting the right temperatures to begin carving stacks of 300-pound ice cubes into festive decorations.

"It's going to be good weather from here on in, absolutely,'' Chapelle, of Brilliant Ice Sculpture in Lawrence, said as his crew set down big stacks of ice around Trinity Church in Copley Square. "We had a couple of soupy hours there yesterday and this morning, but I think we're going to be in good shape.'' Chapelle added that normally he would have gotten started three days sooner, but making sure to wait for a long stretch of below-freezing weather was critical to avoiding seeing his artwork melt.

The ice sculptures are one of the most visible and popular elements of an all-day celebration, going through midnight fireworks over the harbor, that dates back to 1976.

"If you see classical music, see blues, take in a puppet show or a poetry slam, there's over 200 activities,'' First Night spokeswoman Ami Bennitt said. They're all available for just the $10 price of an admission button, available at CVS, Bank of America branches, and other locations listed at .

Eighteen months ago, First Night nearly collapsed after organizers said they were struggling to raise enough money to ensure it would go on as planned at the end of 2013. Mayor Thomas M. Menino had the city take over the event and the Newton-based Highland Street Foundation became the lead financial sponsor, salvaging the event for 2013.

This year's event will include the usual parade down Boylston Street, a slew of family entertainment options inside the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center, fireworks on the Common at 7 p.m. and over Boston Harbor at midnight, and a new attraction, the Budweiser Clydesdales leading the grand parade at 5:30 p.m., Bennitt said. A Copley Square stage outside Trinity Church will feature multiple bands all Wednesday night as well.

With videographer Daniel J. Ferrigan 

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