First Night is back!

Photos Courtesy of First Night MWSO Above, a performer from last year’s First Night event juggles; below, a young resident gets to meet Anna and Elsa from ‘Frozen.’
Photo Courtesy of First Night MWSO
Above, a performer from last year’s First Night event juggles; below, a young resident gets to meet Anna and Elsa from ‘Frozen.’

MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — South Orange and Maplewood residents looking for a good time on New Year’s Eve need go no further than the local high school, as First Night Maplewood South Orange hosts its annual New Year’s Eve celebration at Columbia High School on Parker Avenue in Maplewood on Thursday, Dec. 31, from 4 to 10 p.m.

The popular family event, originally formed by First Night South Orange in 1993, was created to offer locals a culturally diverse program and safe environment to enjoy New Year’s Eve festivities right where they live.

This year’s celebration begins with an earlier start time and, in addition to the crowd favorites of Lisa Lou Circus Acts, Illestyle Hip-Hop Dance Troupe and Doc Swan’s magical comedy, there are some new additions to the entertainment lineup.

“We definitely listen to people’s feedback to make the event better and bring back the things that were successful,” First Night MWSO President Michael Goldberg said in a recent interview with the News-Record. “This event is all about the community, so we want it to reflect the things that our neighbors and friends would like to see.”

Goldberg, a former South Orange trustee, said feedback the organization received from previous years inspired change in start time from 5 p.m. to 4 p.m., so as to accommodate younger attendees.

“Last year we had a single headliner; this year we have a number of smaller acts. Across the board, feedback was that everyone was great so we tried to bring back the most popular performers,” Goldberg said.

“We also have new this year Miss Nina, a local performer who has a high-energy show that is targeted for small children to enjoy,” he said.

Also new this year is Circtaquelar, an act that features circus-type acrobatics, a laser light show, a strolling magician and Sky Squad, an aerial artistry team with moves reminiscent of the Harlem Globetrotters.

“We’re also doing karaoke for the first time this year for people to have some fun with themselves,” Goldberg said.

Feedback from previous years also led to the introduction of a coat rack operation this year to be run by a local Boy Scout troop, due to previous complaints that the venue is always warm yet there is no place for attendees to leave coats.

“People were concerned about cost last year,” he continued. “Now we have an early bird special that will hopefully make it less expensive for larger families to attend.”

Through Dec. 24, tickets can be purchased in person at Kings Food Market in Maplewood, Maplewood Memorial Library, South Orange Public Library and Sparkhouse in South Orange; during that time, tickets will also be available online. After Dec. 24, ticket prices will increase. For all ticket purchases, children 3 and younger are admitted for free.

For more information, visit