It is almost time to ring in the New Year. For many in our region, that means gearing up for First Night. Organizers say they have been planning for First Night for a year and now Mother Nature may put an unexpected twist on the event.
Bundled up waiting at the bus stop, Paul Fischer says the cold weather doesn't slow him down. And no matter how cold it gets on New Year's Eve, Fischer says he will be braving the weather and going to Burlington's First Night.
"You can go straight from every single venue to Memorial Auditorium and whatnot. I don't know exactly what the setup is this year for First Night, but usually you can pop from one warm place to another warm place and maybe even have some hot cocoa along the way," said Fischer.
Tom Ayres, the executive director of First Night, says they have been planning First Night for a year. With two full-time staff members and 400 volunteers, Ayres says it has been a lot of work. But no matter how much planning goes on behind the scene, no one can control Mother Nature and temperatures could drop well below zero.
"Dress in layers and bundle up. On occasion, there are backups and lines, not particularly long ones, but as you move into each venue and show your button and get admitted it sometimes can back up a little outside. So just be prepared for that," said Ayres.
But not everyone says they are willing to face the freezing temps for the full day and evening of activities.
"Because it's cold, we are going to stay inside and probably wear our pajamas all day," said Kim De Champlain, who is not going to First Night.
Although First Night has more than 100 performances in 19 different venue, De Champlain says her family would rather stay home.
"It's not worth it. It's better to be inside -- and why go outside and get everyone a cold? No, we are going to stay in," said De Champlain.
Organizers say First Night brings anywhere from 10,000 to 13,000 people to downtown Burlington. A busy night that police, too, say they are preparing for.
"We always adjust staffing. We plan on having more people in, given the amount of people that are downtown for all the First Night festivities. Certainly we are concerned with alcohol, especially combined with the cold temperatures we are having. The two don't mix well," said Sgt. Justin Couture of the Burlington Police Department.
First Night organizers say so far, button and ticket sales are on par with last year. So there are no signs yet that the weather will negatively impact the number of First Night participants.