News of Otsego County

First Night

Festival of Lights Opens In Neahwa Park

Festival of Lights

Opens In Neahwa Park

Connie Herzig, left, and event organizer Carol Mandigo, right, wave to visitors alongside Santa Claus during the opening night of The Festival of Lights in Neahwa Park earlier this evening. Visitors can make their way through the park via car and enjoy plenty of colorful displays created by local businesses and organizations. The event, sponsored by First Night Oneonta, is open each day at sundown for the next three weeks.(Ian Austin/
Heavy Snow Won’t Dim Festival Of Lights

Heavy Snow Won’t Dim

Oneonta Festival Of Lights

John Becker clears snow from a Festival of Lights display he built for the Benson Agency this morning in Neahwa Park. Though yesterday’s snowstorm dumped 29″ of powder on Oneonta, First Night’s planned Festival of Lights is still scheduled to brighten the park, starting at sunset this evening. The drive-thru event will be held every evening through Sunday, Jan. 3. (Ian Austin/

Parade, Poetry, & Party

To Celebrate New Year


New Years Eve!

CELEBRATION – 5 p.m. Start a safe & sober New Years celebration with parade down Main St. followed by poetry readings, festival featuring live music, games, dancing, & special guest Anthony Eardley, Oneonta’s American Ninja Warrior. Then first ever talent show featuring $1000 prize at 7:30, then black-light after-party featuring entertainment by Cosmic Karma Fire Spinners. Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. 607-431-2080 or visit

Cheering OUT & Swearing IN

Cheering OUT & Swearing IN!


At Oneonta’s First Night, Greg Lee and other members of his Cosmic Karma Fire troupe, left, spin flames for  onlookers outside Foothills’ Atrium.  At right, the Elite Dance Company’s Dejalei Champen and Emily Kane hoist Lillian Stalter up in the air.

The state senator’s wife, Cindy, holds the Bible for the 17th time as James L. Seward, R-Milford, surrounded by his family took the oath of office from County Judge Brian Burns, right, Tuesday, Jan. 1, in the Foothills Atrium.  Others from left, are son Ryan and his wife, Kelly Ann; daughter Lauren, and granddaughters Vivian and Nora


With his namesake father by his side, county Sheriff Richard J. Devlin Jr. takes the oath from county Judge John Lambert, who was also sworn in for a second 10-year term.


County Coroner David Delker, the Edmeston funeral director, kisses wife Karen after being sworn in for the first time.


Otsego county’s new assemblyman, John Salka, R-Brookfield, recites the pledge.


Assemblyman Chris Tague, who represents the county’s four easternmost towns, acknowledges applause.



Rod Roberts, above, swings Cuca, his wife of 36 years, around the dance floor to “What a Wonderful World.”  At right, tiger-faced Leah Puylara and Owen Meade, and his Aunt Lisa Foster, all from Milford, pause for a souvenir photo.


First Night Frolics At Foothills!

First Night Frolics

Underway At Foothills!

Leah Puylara and her friend Owen Meade, Milford, help add to the music as part of the the First Night festivities, now underway at Foothills in Oneonta. With music, dancing, magic, performances, a make-your-own-sundae bar and more, the festivities go on until midnight to help Oneonta ring in 2019. (Ian Austin/
First Night Parade And Fireworks Cancelled, Festivities Still At Foothills

First Night Parade, Fireworks

Cancelled; Festivities Still On

ONEONTA – The show will go on.

Though the parade and the fireworks at Oneonta’s First Night celebration have been cancelled, the festivities at Foothills are still scheduled from 5 p.m. to midnight, according to organizer David Hayes.

“Unfortunately, in Upstate New York, we are at the mercy of the weather,” he said. “But it was just going to be a wall of rain, and out of concern for people’s safety, we decided to cancel.”

Blue Skies First Night Rings In 2017

‘Blue Skies’ Ring In 2017

At Oneonta First Night Fete

Doug Rougeux of Bubblemania wows youngsters on the main stage of Foothills during Oneonta’s “Blue Skies Smilin’ At Me” First Night Celebration. Families enjoyed live music, dancing, magic, martial arts demonstration, LARPing, bowl making, fire dancers, puppet shows, food and other fun throughout the evening.  The celebration was more subdued in Cooperstown, where – for the first time in 22 years – the Friends of Bassett decided not to hold their New Year’s gala at The Otesaga.   (Ian Austin/
Thrills, Laughs All Over At Oneonta’s First Night

Thrills, Laughs All Over

At Oneonta’s First Night

Cosmic Karma Fire proprietor Greg Lee and son Malachite wow the crowd that lined Oneonta's Main Street at 6 this evening as the reborn First Night Parade welcomed the new year. (Jim Kevlin/
Cosmic Karma Fire proprietor Greg Lee and son Malachite wow the crowd that lined Oneonta’s Main Street at 6 this evening as the reborn First Night Parade welcomed the new year.   The First Night Puppets, fire trucks, dance troupe, karate clubs and much more soon followed through the downtown.  After the parade, entertainment was staged from Foothills Performing Arts Center to First UM Church.   (Jim Kevlin/ 


First Night Parade At 6 P.M.

First Night Parade At 6 P.M.

Mike the Juggler and the First Night Puppets will be back in action at 6 p.m. today at, after a year's hiatus, a New Year's Eve Parade returns to Main Street, Oneonta. Anyone interested in helping carry the puppets should e-mail Mark Drnek at Music and entertainment will follow at Foothills Performing Arts Center and venues throughout downtown. ( 2014 file photo)
Mike the Juggler and the First Night Puppets will be back in action at 6 p.m. today as – after a year’s hiatus – a New Year’s Eve Parade returns to Main Street, Oneonta. (Anyone interested in helping carry the puppets should e-mail Mark Drnek at Music and entertainment will follow at Foothills Performing Arts Center and venues throughout downtown. ( 2014 file photo)
All First-Night Action Under Foothills’ Roof

All First-Night Action Under Foothills’ Roof


Edition of Friday, Nov. 21, 2014

Like the snowflakes that flutter down on New Year’s Eve, each First Night celebration is different. “We’re always starting new traditions,” said David Hayes, one of the organizers. “We’re not afraid to try new things.”

This year, you won’t even have to face the snow and cold to enjoy the magic of the celebration. First Night has teamed up with Foothills to bring the city-hopping party under one roof.

“It was tough for families, especially with young children, to go to a venue, then have to bundle everyone back up and walk back across town to see something else,” said Carol Mandigo, who chairs the First Night board. “It’s a great partnership.”

Acts will be divided up between the Atrium, the 620-seat Main Stage, and the Production Room Theater and smaller Upstairs Theater in the administration building. In the future, Mandigo hopes heated tents can be placed outside to bring in more performers.

Though at first they were worried that people would think First Night was shrinking or on the verge of vanishing completely, Mandigo said she’s heard nothing but good things about the change. “People are relieved,” she said. “Last year was so cold, and some venues weren’t as well attended as other because people didn’t want to have to walk.”

For the first time in a while, there will be no First Night parade on New Year’s Eve. It has been shifted to the two-day Hometown Fourth of July, celebrated for the first time this year in Neahwa Park. “It’s much easier to recruit musicians and community groups in warm weather,” said Hayes. “If we’re going to do a parade, we want it to be a robust one.”

Instead, an opening ceremony, featuring puppets, dance troupes and Cosmic Karma Fire dancers is planned at 5:30 p.m. at Foothills, with a special dedication to Mayor Dick Miller. “We want to celebrate everything he has done to support First Night over the years,” said Mandigo.

With Gandolf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams as the headliner, Mandigo hopes the event will have a “three-ring circus” feel. “We’re a month out and we’re hiring more clowns and magicians,” she said. “We want to provide something unusual, something people haven’t seen before.”

Popular First Night performer BJ the Clown has even added to her repertoire for an enhanced carnival feel. “She took a balloon sculpture workshop, so she’s going to put together a big ‘Life Enjoyed’ sculpture in the atrium,” said Mandigo. “There will even be a balloon drop from the ceiling just before the fireworks!”

Volunteers are still needed for the event, and volunteers get a free admission button. To volunteer, sign up at

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