Government shutdown requires First Night Morris to reshuffle New Year’s Eve fireworks

Fireworks at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
Fireworks at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Jeff Sovelove
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The show will go on in Morristown on New Year’s Eve– with or without the federal government.

First Night 2019 logoTwo fireworks displays will be visible from the historic Morristown Green, as scheduled. They just won’t be launched from Fort Nonsense, a National Park Service site, First Night Morris County Director Craig Schlosser said on Saturday.

“We’re not seeing any resolution in sight, so we needed to make alternate plans,” Schlosser said, referring to the partial shutdown of the government, which started on Dec. 22, 2018.

Revelers on the Green simply will have to turn around and face in the direction of Headquarters Plaza to enjoy the aerial celebrations, planned for 9:15 pm and midnight, Schlosser said.

First Night Morris will mark its 27th anniversary by presenting more than 100 artists and 81 events at 23 venues across Morristown. It’s alcohol-free and family friendly. One $25 badge ($90 for four) admits you to all venues.

Badges may be purchased online line or at the Mayo Performing Arts Center box office at 100 South St., (973) 539-8008.

The fireworks are free, along with parking and shuttle buses. 

The Harmonium Choral Society at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin
The Harmonium Choral Society at First Night Morris 2018. Photo by Kevin Coughlin

In a new twist, the 9:15 pm fireworks will kick off with a rendition of Auld Lang Syne by the Harmonium Choral Society. 

Led by Artistic Director Anne Matlack, the renowned 100-voice ensemble agreed this week to reconvene on the Green after its two First Night performances at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer.

First Night Morris always seeks to enhance its fun factor, Schlosser explained. The Fort Nonsense situation “gave us the impetus to do this,” he said of the choral appearance.

Many government workers were furloughed when President Trump rejected a bi-partisan spending plan from Congress that did not include funding for his wall on the Mexican border.

A MorristownGreen.com query to Tom Ross, superintendent of the Morristown National Historical Park, which includes Fort Nonsense, received an automated reply:

“Due to the federal government shutdown, I am not in the office and am unable to access or respond to e-mail. I will respond to e-mail messages as needed once government operations resume and I am back in the office.”

Luke Gong's photograph of a cannon at Fort Nonsense.
Luke Gong’s photograph of a cannon at Fort Nonsense, a Revolutionary War outpost overlooking Morristown.

Schlosser said he had five backup plans for the fireworks, which have been launched from Fort Nonsense for years.

“Every year, we get an alert that there might be a government shutdown,” he said.

“I didn’t fully realize how great this community was until we went through this ordeal,” Schlosser added, noting that Morristown officials and numerous organizations, including Morris Arts, enabled him to react quickly.

“I’m very, very grateful for the outstanding community support.”

He’ll be even more grateful if Mother Nature changes her plans and delivers dry weather, averting the other omnipresent threat to great fireworks displays.

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