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First Night Morris Brings Thousands to Morristown

The annual Morris County celebration of the arts packed the downtown on Tuesday night.

What do you get when you combine a pair of fireworks shows on the Morristown Green, 200 artists and 80 cultural attractions packed into 25 separate venues?

The answer is First Night Morris: 2014, and this year the county's alcohol-free celebration of arts rang in the New Year with Morris Arts is serving as artistic programmer for the 22nd time.

Nearly two-thirds of the program featured new artists and artists returning after several years, many of whom have performed at major venues such as the White House, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Madison Square Garden; have won recognition including Grammy awards and MacArthur “genius” grants; and have worked on television or films and with worldwide performing arts.

The evening ended with a pair of fireworks displays to ring in the new year.

“We have what we call three pillars as our guiding principles,” Craig Scholsser, director of First Night said. “Affordable world class entertainment, strengthen our communities and future artist investment.”

Schlosser said they are trying to drive First Night forward while keeping the same core of the event.

The cold temperatures didn’t dissuade the masses from attending and Schlosser said that was something his team of volunteers was preparing for.

 “We are very sensitive to the weather conditions and we realize as a family friendly event we have young children and grandparents who attend,” Schlosser said. “So besides all of the events being inside, we also have five shuttle buses that will be running from venue to venue throughout the night.”

The buses were popular, as people were swiftly carted off to their destination. The enhanced maps and signage were also a big hit as families spent the evening connecting and sharing their favorite memories of First Night’s past with people they met on line for shows or on line for food.

There was also a noticeable lack of smart phone tinkering. That is some Schlosser is particularly proud of.

“You see families in the different venues, participating in our interactive entertainment,” Schlosser said. “And no one is on their cell phone.”

With this year’s First Night in the rearview, Schlosser said the plan is to start thinking about 2015 almost immediately.

“We used to have a retreat in June to start thinking about next year,” Schlosser said. “Now we generate a 3,200 line item report and go over it within a few weeks.”

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