“Feeling so good," said Mohmoad Kalifa Kamara, bandleader of local afro-beat group Koliba in the midst of the parade kicking off. "Excited to have fun with the crowd. I’ve been in Boston for over thirty years, so this is my hometown.”
This year marks the 48th annual First Night Boston, a nearly half-century long celebration in the city for families to start off the new year.
This year also marks the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began that indoor events will be returning, as the city prepares for an estimated 200,000 people to attend the celebration.
"We can finally come out," said someone partaking in the day's events.
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The First Night celebrated included an all-day program of family-friendly activities: The First Night parade at 6 p.m., a fireworks display on the Boston Common at 7 p.m., followed by a series of live-music acts at Copley Square until the countdown to midnight. And what does First Night have planned at midnight? A pyrotechnics show.
"This is our first Boston New Year's," said one of two friends from Kansas who were celebrating in the city. "And it's bigger and better than I ever imagined!"
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"It was even better than I thought it would be," said someone who attended the parade. "The dancing was incredible. The energy. And they threw us tea! We got some tea from the Boston tea party !”
For many, Boston's First Night is a treasured tradition, and tonight is the first time they'll be able to share that tradition with their children. The O'Reagan family's son, Keirean was born during the pandemic. And the O'Reagan's say First Night is Keirean's first New Year's celebration.
"To show the little guy what New Years is all about. Celebrating.”
For many as well, the New Year is the mark of new beginnings and hope for good days ahead. And when asked what they're looking forward to in the new year, this answer summed it up well:
"Healthy, and peace."
For more information regarding tonight's festivities, visit First Night Boston 2023's website here.