Tampa Bay First Night Cancelled

Another First Night celebration runs out of money

It’s been an annual New Year’s Eve event for six years, but Tampa Bay is joining a handful of other cities nationwide forced to cancel or scale down their First Night Party because of lack of funding. Tampa Bay lost its title sponsor, and organizers told the St. Petersburg Times that they couldn’t come up with the $50,000 needed to host the event.

Tampa Bay has been holding the non-alcohol family event since 1992. Attendance has averaged 25,000 people, until last year when the crowds dwindled down to 15,000 and that’s when the funding problems began.

First Night organizers also say the problem is competition this year. There are quite a few other events to choose from in Tampa Bay because of big Year 2000 parties, making it even tougher to get a large group to attend the event. Many Tampa Bay hotels are planning big dinner packages with dancing and the Florida Aquarium is having a sleepover for the kids. There’s also the Outback Bowl, which features a laser show afterward. All these celebrations have really put the crunch on First Night and the event had to be cancelled.

Tampa Bay’s First Night party was modeled after Boston’s party, which has been going on for more than 20 years. In fact, representatives from Boston came to Tampa Bay to kick off the first year of the event. Tampa Bay’s cancellation won’t leave all Florida families searching for a party location, First Night celebrations are taking place in both St. Petersburg and Dunedin.

Tampa Bay isn’t the first city to have a funding problem, a First Night party was also cancelled in Lima, Ohio. In Edmonton, Alberta Canada organizers had to scale back its bash because of funding. Earlier this month in Annapolis, Maryland a corporate sponsor stepped up just in time to save the event. Tampa Bay does hope to revive its First Night party next year when all the hoopla over Year 2000 is over.

DATE: 10/20/99

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