The first First Night was presented in Boston on December 31,1975 and into the wee hours of 1976 with a hodgepodge of music, dance, and other performances and events to celebrate the New Year. Its mission was to present a family-friendly, alcohol-free alternative to the let's-get-blotto New Year's Eve party ethos (not that there's anything wrong with that. Well, maybe there is something wrong with that). The idea took hold, and First Night became wildly popular, regularly attracting over a million revelers to downtown Boston who marveled at the fireworks, ice sculptures, grand procession, and vast array of performances.

Many other communities across the country joined in the fun and held their own copycat events. For a few years, I helped organize a small First Night in my north-of-Boston hometown. But the recession made it difficult for the non-profit organizations running the events to raise funds, and many of them, Boston included, ran into financial trouble. Earlier this year, Boston's First Night organization closed, and it appeared that the original First Night would be no more.

Outgoing Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, however, essentially said, "Not on my watch," and helped kick start a private-public coalition to take over the event and keep it running. So the last First Night was not the, um, last First Night. As one of his final acts in office, Menino will join in the revelry at First Night 2014, and you can -- and should -- too.

While the complete schedule hasn't been released yet, the initial lineup looks fabulous. Highlights will include performances by legendary rocker Patti Smith, gospel stalwarts The Blind Boys of Alabama, jazz artists the Donald Harrison Quintet, and a showing of the classic silent film, Safety Last, with an accompanying score played live by the Berklee Silent Film Orchestra. The committee putting First Night Boston together is also promising that fireworks, ice sculptures, and other traditions will continue.

I'm thrilled to see that the event will carry on. It's a wonderful celebration of the arts, of the city, and of the new year. Support and enjoy the first of what will hopefully be many First Nights under its new leadership.

First Night Boston 2014
December 31, 2013 at locations throughout Boston
$10 buttons allow admission to all indoor events