Now that we’ve settled into the new year, we were able to sit down with our very own Brooke Maher, Event Director of First Night Boston 2020, to get her thoughts on this year’s New Year’s Eve celebration. With thousands of attendees and 12+ hours of programming in Boston’s Back Bay, Brooke led the Conventures team and our partners in the planning and logistics of this large-scale event.
Congratulations on your first year as the First Night Event Director! Tell us a bit about First Night 2020.
BM: First Night 2020 had the same celebratory atmosphere as years past with a few changes in hopes of improving the participants’ experiences.
The two most noticeable changes this year were the added side stage on Copley Square and the location change of the Ice Pavilion. The side stage allowed for nonstop live music throughout the day. While one stage had a performance, the other stage was being switched over to the next act’s equipment.
The Ice Pavilion was historically on the central grass part of Copley Square. We moved it into the fountain area for many reasons:
- More space for participants to view the ice sculptures
- More space on the grass for participants to view the stage
- Drainage once the ice is broken down
- Less damage to the grass
How did you go about orchestrating such a big event? When did the planning process begin?
BM: Orchestrating any event takes extreme organization and multitasking. Since it was my first time as Event Director, my first step was figuring out what was done last year and what can be done to improve on it. In early September, we determined who from Conventures would work on the event and what their role would be, some of which repeated from last year. I met with everyone individually on their role—hearing their 2019 feedback and setting a timeline for their tasks for 2020. I am lucky to have great team members who are detail-oriented and stay on top of their work, which allows me to focus on my tasks.
The next step is permitting and securing equipment/security. We then held a monthly meeting with all of the major players at our office, which was about 20–25 people (5 of whom were Conventures staff). We discussed the execution of the event from what equipment is needed, to the event week timeline, to picking entertainment and everything in between! These meetings ensure everyone is on the same page and are vital for a successful event. It certainly takes a village to put on this event and working with the best in the business from tents, to pyro, to lighting/electricity, etc. certainly makes this a top-notch event.
After the clock strikes midnight, the pyrotechnics go off, and the performers finish their act, what else is there to do?
BM: Clean! There is a lot of trash left by the general public. Our team picks up as much as possible while vendors store away their valuables. Then on New Year’s Day we clear everything out — barricading, stages, tents, lights, etc. Everything gets packed up and leaves that day.
The parade is an iconic part of First Night Boston — are there any year-to-year changes that take place?
BM: My teammate Annie handles all of the parade logistics and she fine-tunes it from year to year. Whether that means replacing/adding performers or making sure the road closures are set and any cars in restricted areas are towed in time, she always tries to make it more efficient and entertaining than the previous year. We try to leave the park as clean as we find it, and work with the city’s Parks Department to make it all look good.
Any insight on what we should look forward to at First Night 2021?
BM: The goal each year is to make it bigger, better and attract more people. We will try, as always, to expand our footprint and have the best talent possible while still maintaining a safe and family-friendly atmosphere.