Haddonfield’s First Night to be canceled after 20 years

New Year’s Eve tradition will not return this year, organizers say

First Night Haddonfield, an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve celebration that brought performances, activities and fireworks to the borough for two decades, will not be returning for another year.

Organizers announced Aug. 28 the decision to not continue the annual event, which was first held in Haddonfield in 1999.

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In a statement, organizer and former mayor Jack Tarditi said the people who put together the event “have decided to take a bow and retire.”

“We’ve had 20 good years,” Tarditi told The Sun. “Right now, we’re taking a timeout.”

Tarditi did not specify any other reasons for the move to cancel First Night, but he did say the event is not the same as it was in its early days.

“The interest has changed over the years,” he said. “We don’t get the same crowds we used to get.”

Last year, First Night Haddonfield celebrated its 20th anniversary by hosting more than 30 performances in 15 venues around the borough. Headliners included The Duprees, The Trammps and Celtic vocal group The Screaming Orphans.

In recent years, the event has also attracted big-name sponsors like Comcast and Subaru.

First Night was a function of the Haddonfield Cultural Historical Commission. Tarditi, former mayor Tish Colombi and Gene D’Orazio serve as commissioners for the organization.

Tarditi, in his statement, said the group is “looking at other ways for folks from Haddonfield and throughout the region to welcome the new year.”

“Since the one constant in life is change, events such as First Night must change with the times,” he added. “We do not yet know what might come next — stay tuned!”

Despite the decision to scrap First Night, Tarditi said in his statement the event was a success, thanks to top-quality acts, volunteers and sponsors.

He said all 5,000 buttons, which serve as passes for the event, sold out in the days prior to the initial First Night in 1999. The event expanded and sold 7,000 buttons the next year, according to Tarditi.

Then, in 2001, the event started hosting a pair of fireworks shows — one at 9 p.m. for young children and one at midnight.

“On behalf of the Haddonfield Cultural Events Commission and the members of the First Night Steering Committee, I extend my heartfelt thanks to all of the sponsors, venues, performers, municipal departments and First Nighters from near and far who helped make our 20 New Year’s Eve celebrations so successful and so much fun,” Tarditi said in the statement.

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