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First Night will no longer host a downtown Spokane New Year’s Eve party

UPDATED: Tue., Jan. 30, 2018, 9:39 p.m.

FILE - Fireworks explode above the Riverfront Park Clock Tower on New Year’s Eve. First Night Spokane will no longer host a New Year’s Eve party as attendance has fallen. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
FILE - Fireworks explode above the Riverfront Park Clock Tower on New Year’s Eve. First Night Spokane will no longer host a New Year’s Eve party as attendance has fallen. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

First Night Spokane will no longer host a New Year’s Eve party downtown amid waning attendance and rising costs.

“This last year we just took too many hits in the 4th quarter and on top of it our event fell on a Sunday, which is notorious for being a slow day for admission sales,” Nanette Miller, executive director of First Night, said in an email Tuesday.

The event costs about $200,000 to host and needed about 6,000 people to attend to break even. This year, it sold just over 3,000 tickets.

Miller said last month that the event’s future was in doubt. It’s a similar story around the country as lackluster attendance signaled the end of what were billed as family friendly events featuring art, music and food rather than alcohol-fueled parties.

“There is a time and a season for all things, and although First Night is a wonderful addition to our city, it is time to let the final curtain fall,” the organization announced. “The attendance needed to financially maintain an event of this magnitude has not been present; therefore we are stepping aside to make room for new ideas and opportunities to emerge.”

The nonprofit fell short of funds to pay this year’s bill and is seeking donations for a clean closure.

First Night began in 2001 by the former Chamber of Commerce, which is now called Greater Spokane Inc. It drew 15,000 people.

At its pinnacle, the Spokane event attracted a crowd of about 35,000 people downtown to ring in the New Year.

The idea of First Night originated in Boston in 1975.

Miller said that if First Night was to ever make a comeback, it would likely do so under a different name.

“It has has run its course,” Miller said. “But the baton is definitely going to be passed.”


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