Low funding puts New Year’s celebration in jeopardy

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. (WAVY) – A long-standing, New Year’s Eve tradition is in danger of ending.

First Night Williamsburg is in desperate need of funds to ensure family-friendly fun continues for its 22nd year. An estimated 5,000 people pack Williamsburg each New Year’s Eve for the celebration. The organizers say they’ve raised $12,000 of around $30,000 needed for the big night. And, of course, they only have about four months to go.

“If you’ve ever been to that show, to see the happiness that you see in those kids, you’ll want to maintain it,” said Robert Braxton. “We want to continue that tradition because it’s very hard to drop something like that and try and re-institute it.”

The celebration features 30 locations with their own unique vibe. They say participants get to listen to everything from blues to jazz to Celtic music. You can see it all with the purchase of one $15 button, but maintaining this celebration is proving to be a tough task.

“Right now we’re year-to-year, and with the drop off in funding the way it’s been the last three or four years, you just never know,” Grover Lewis said. “We went pretty far into this year having to make the decision: are we going to be able to put on First Night or not?”

They decided to march forward, hoping the community would step up and keep something around that’s helped them ring in the new year for so long.

Not only do they need donors, but they say they also need volunteers. It’s not often that people wish for sparks to fly, but right now they need the word to spread so that just maybe they’ll be lighting fireworks to usher in 2015 after all.

For information about First Night Williamsburg or how you can help, click here.

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