Organization Changes Name, Prepares for Holiday Events

Organization Changes Name,
Prepares for Holiday Events

ONEONTA – First Night Oneonta has announced a name change to Hill City Celebrations and a new collaboration with the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce. This expansion and re-branding better reflects the year-round events and activities First Night organizes for the community.

The mission of First Night has always been to provide healthy, alcohol-free activities and events for families, the announcement reads. Community partners include LEAF Council on Alcoholism and Addictions, Five Star Subaru and dozens of generous local foundations, individuals, and businesses. Hill City Celebrations also works closely with the City of Oneonta, SUNY Oneonta, Hartwick College and Bassett Healthcare Network to produce events such as the Oneonta Festival of Lights, First Night at the Foothills, and the Hometown 4th of July.

Hill City Celebrations is currently gearing up for the Oneonta Festival of Lights, scheduled to begin in Neawha Park on Sunday, December 18. The theme for 2022 is “Fabulous Fox Physicians” and the event will honor Dr. Yoshiro Matsuo and Physician Assistant Lynne Bolstad for their many decades of providing compassionate, medical care to the community. The organization is partnering with Fox Hospital and there will be a display at the festival in honor of Matsuo and Bolstad, as well as a small ceremony on opening night.

The festival will begin on December 18 and continue each evening from 5-10 p.m. through January 1. This year’s December 18 start coincides with the first night of Hanukah and, as such, opening night of the festival will feature a lighting of the ceremonial menorah to celebrate the eight days in remembrance of the lighting of the Temple Eternal Light.

Everyone in the community is invited to create a display for the festival, and schools, clubs, and businesses are encouraged to highlight their organization in their display design. Those interested in signing up can e-mail for more information. The 2022 Festival of Lights will feature approximately 45 displays. Five Star Subaru and Cleinman Charitable Trust are sponsoring $2,000.00 in prizes for three winning displays, with matching donations to charities of the winner’s choice.

In addition to the Festival of Lights, Hill City Celebrations is bringing back the traditional First Night New Year’s Eve at The Foothills Performing Arts & Civic Center. This is an indoor event geared toward children and families, and is an alcohol free, family friendly celebration of arts and culture. First Night was originally conceived to help entire families welcome the New Year and have healthy fun together on a traditional drinking holiday. The event will be held on New Year’s Eve from 5-8 p.m. and will feature DrumQuest, Cosmic Karma Fire, the Hill City Ice Queen and friends, Mike the Juggler, music, face painting, puppets, free pizza, ice cream, and more.

As part of the First Night event there will be a community talent show to spotlight the creativity of the area’s talented local performing artists. Performers are invited from all age groups, especially younger community members. Five Star Subaru and Hill City Celebrations will provide judges and prizes.

All of Hill City Celebrations events are offered at no cost and there is no fee to set up a display. Hill City Celebrations are able to be admission free thanks to the generosity of community sponsors whose names can be found at and in advertising for the events.

Hill City Celebrations board membership is all volunteer and the organization is in need of new board members, sponsors, and volunteers. Anyone interested can contact Stan Fox, or Carol Mandigo,, with questions and for further assistance.

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